* Prices may differ from that shown
I really can't remember how I first discovered OK GO, all I can tell you is that is was long before THAT treadmill video and that they had been one of the most played bands in my music collection for many years. The band are from Chicago and were formed in 1998. Together band members Damian Kulash (vocals / guitar), Tim Nordwind (bass / vocals), Dan Konopka (drums) and Andy Ross who replaced Andy Duncan in 2005 (guitar /keyboards/vocals) have released four albums. In my opinion 'Oh No' is their best.
How would I describe OK GO to someone that had not heard them before? Well essentially I guess they are a rock band but have quite a poppy edge on many of their tracks. Their songs are mostly fun, occasionally dark and always with witty lyrics. They have a unique talent of getting a catchy melody into every song, album, B side or single. As I am really an album buyer and don't pay much attention to the charts or single releases, listening to the albums I couldn't really tell you which were singles, it certainly isn't obvious as their songs I think of the same high quality throughout. Indeed if you ask a thousand OK GO fans thier favourite track, there won't be a runaway winner.
*Review of download copy - no artwork*
OH NO opens with the loud, fun and slightly silly INVINCIBLE. It opens with a few drum beats and then the guitar kicks in before Damian sings in almost robotic style "When we finally come to destroy the earth we'll have to go to you first..." As the title suggests, a song about a person being well, Invincible. It's a powerful song with lots of going on which is really is not designed to be played on anything below full volume. A 'get in your head' chorus with lots of oh oh ohs. In my opinion, every good song needs a fair few ohs and oos. Also look up the great video for this - it features lots of random objects being blown up, something all boys and fans of Top Gear will love.
Following this, the song probably most people will know OK GO from...the one with the treadmill video. Possibly one of the greatest videos ever and doesn't everyone just want to have a go at that? HERE IT GOES AGAIN is another fast, lively slightly silly song. Not much to it, fairly repetitive but catchy and infectious. I love it.
A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME is a bit slower to start but builds into another rocking chorus (with more oohs.) Some fantastic lyrics in this one. A highlight.
The mood of the album is brought down with OH LATELY IT'S SO QUIET. A beautiful, sweet, soft and in places eerie track. 'I'm wondering who's house are you haunting tonight?' Is the line we hear repeated in the chorus, and I'm not sure whether to take this literally or whether it's just a bitchy line to someone, whichever it is I still find this song has a little chill about it. Goes to show OK GO can be just as good when they aren't shouting out a big chorus.
Though they don't want us to forget this is what they like doing for too long. IT'S A DISASTER is a big track, and one of my favourite on the album. Frantic, loud, and again a little silly. 'It's a Disaster, It's a terrible mess.." Damian shouts at us. Wrong, it's brilliant song!
A MILLION WAYS again shows off the bands talent at writing brilliant witty lyrics. Whoever this song is about is "A Million Ways to be cruel" - don't piss off Kulash, he'll write a song about you! This is a much more understated song, no silliness here, the tone here is bitter. Though it works.
LET IT RAIN keeps the low key tone. A gorgeous song, the slightly robotic, distant voice we heard earlier on it the album is back. Lyrically and musically fantastic. Less oohs but a few Hallelujahs instead. Slightly odd!
Back with the big tunes with the very silly but amazing TELEVISION TELEVISION. My favourite OK GO track over all the albums. I have to issue a warning though this will get in your head big time and you back be walking around shouting Television Television, followed by woo hoo hoooo! - You won't be able to stop yourself. You've been warned. Stupidly silly. I adore it.
MAYBE THIS TIME is a lot slower and acts a bit like an antedote to Television Television. Quite a dark song. "You must have mastered this, the fragile art of a good excuse" Kulash almost whispers into the mic, another quite bitter song. I love how Ok Go go from being jump around silly to quite dark and spiteful, if TELEVISION TELEVISION is Dr Jekell, MAYBE THIS TIME is Mr Hyde.
The penultimate (or ultimate - I'll explain in a minute) song on the album is the simply amazing THE HOUSE WINS. I can't tell you why I love this but it really is a favourite. Quite a depressing song really 'You don't have to be alone to be lonely, you might as well give in' - it's a song about everything else winning so you might as well give up on everything. Strange how some of the most depressing songs can end up being favourites! Odd way to end all the craziness of the rest of the album. If you want to end OH NO on a high, play it backwards.
Following THE HOUSE WINS is the somewhat baffling 9027KM. A song with literally nothing to it. Maybe the band want us to reflect on what we've just heard. Maybe they are simply trying to annoy people who put their music on shuffle. Some research on the internet tells me that it's in fact a recording of Damian's girlfriend sleeping, but no one seems to know what the purpose of it is. Probably simply only to cause confusion, controversy and endless hits on their message boards. Oh I know I'm so cynical, it's actually probably 'art'. Either way, I think most of us can think of better ways to spend 34 minutes.
Overall, A simply fantastic album, albeit with and ending that with leave you scratching your head.
This is Ok Go's second outing in album form (if anyone is as much of a fan as I am, it is also worth checking out their earlier EP's and singles which contain excellent covers of Oliver's Army and Lovecats) and seem to be making a bit of a breakthrough in Britain. Unfortunately it seems to be more because of the wonderful dancing rather than the perfect pop rock songs they so effortlessly produce.
Since their last album, the self-titled Ok Go (also their debut), they have lost two of their members and gained replacements. Their sound has deinfitely changed as a result of this, and even possibly because of a bit of maturing. Invincible, for instance, has heavy distortion throughout (not in a classic rock way, in more of a 'this is hard to listen to' manner), but once a few listens has passed the song will be a favourite. Other tracks are just sheer pop brilliance. Do What You Want has 'ooo ooo' chants that will stay in your head for hours afterwards, Here It Goes Again has THAT treadmill video and A Million Ways To Be Cruel is just genius (the harmonics spell 1000000 cruel).
I never thought I would find myself in possession of OK Go's second album. Their first wasn't a bad release, having a few decent indie-pop style tunes, but nothing that really stood out and they had seemingly vanished after a couple of singles. But they embraced the world of You Tube incredibly well, offering a chance for their fans to enter a competition and, thanks to a couple of videos posted on there, they returned to my attention. Once again, they started with a video for a song I quite liked and so I ended up with an album I ended up enjoying more than their first.
The album gets off to an impressive start with "Invincible". It's got a very indie-pop sound, with an upbeat, up-tempo bouncy feel. A decent bass line makes it good walking or running music. The lyrics are worth a listen as well, with some of the feeling that, when combined with the music, makes me think of They Might Be Giants. There is a bit of a strange break in the later stages of the song that disrupts the rhythm of the track a little, but it's a decent opener and far better than much of their debut album.
Even better is the next track, "Do What You Want". It's a fairly straight rock-pop song, with a slightly under produced college rock feel to it. Despite that, it's a real toe tapping tune, being very bouncy and up-tempo and I can this being a very popular song when played live as it has plenty of energy and drives onwards very enthusiastically.
The video that first caught my attention was the one for "Here It Goes Again". Even several years later, I can't hear the song without thinking about that video. It's a minor distraction, but it helps that the song is a good one in its own right. Much like "Do What You Want", it's a very bouncy and energetic up-tempo pop-rock song with a lovely driving bass line and even without that impressive video, it would still be one of my favourite tracks on the album.
There's a much heavier, but no less driving bass line over "A Good Idea at the Time". The indie-pop feel is back here and the tempo drops a little from the earlier tracks. It's another one that seems to have a nod towards They Might Be Giants and whilst it may not be quite as good musically as the couple of tracks preceding it, there's a sense of fun to the song thanks to some of the lyrics.
Unfortunately, things drop off a little for "Oh Lately, it's so Quiet", which reminds me of much of their previous album. It's a downbeat and down-tempo indie-pop track which doesn't really go anywhere and takes it's time getting there.
"It's a Disaster" seems to fall somewhere between the two types of song we've had thus far on the album. It's got quite a bouncy feel, helped along by a driving drum beat, but it's a little more mid-tempo than the earlier songs, although it does pick up a bit in the chorus. It's a decent enough little indie-pop tune, but does suffer a little in comparison to the opening four tracks on the album which set the bar very high right from the start.
The next track was also accompanied by a decent video and again it's tough not to think of the video whenever I play the song. "A Million Ways" is a distinct fan favourite, although it's not one of mine so much. That doesn't make it a bad song by any means, though. It's a decent mid-tempo indie-pop song with another decent, bouncy bass line. The vocals are a little weak, which takes the edge of it for me, as they seem to lack the energy of the music and the two don't seem to work terribly well together.
"No Sign of Life" is another down tempo rock-pop influenced song that, musically at least, reminds me a little bit of some of Terrorvision's more laid back material, largely thanks to the guitar line running through it. The vocals don't bear this comparison out, unfortunately, being once more largely burier under the music and seeming weak in comparison. This is another mid-tempo pop-rock track that doesn't really go anywhere and really only has that guitar line to elevate it above being really quite dull.
"Let it Rain" is much the same as "No Sign of Life", although slightly more laid back. It's a more pop influenced song with slightly weak vocals, although the chorus does pick it up a little bit. Lyrically, it's not too bad, although it can be tough to pick the lyrics up from underneath the music sometimes. This is certainly one of the worse songs on the album and doesn't have even a decent musical backing to help save it from being completely forgettable.
Fortunately, things pick up immediately thanks to "Crash the Party". It's a song that harks back to some of the earlier tracks, having a bouncy little feel with a driving drum beat and guitar line to help things through. The vocals are a little buried again, but the whole song has the kind of upbeat indie-pop feel of They Might Be Giants again, which makes it a lot of fun and comes as something of a relief after a couple of comparatively dull tracks.
There's another great track in "Television, Television". It's got a darker, more bass heavy tone, but it's another driving up-tempo indie-rock track. The lyrics over to verses are quite entertaining, although the chorus is comparatively weak. Fortunately, the music is bouncy enough to salvage the track and whilst it's not one worth listening to terribly closely, it is quite entertaining.
The pace drops again for "Maybe This Time", which is a down-tempo indie influenced pop track. It's got an interesting driving bass line running through it, but it's another where the vocals are buried under the music. It's a song that plods along more than being driven along like some of the earlier tracks and without a huge amount of musical variation, it does get a little dull.
"The House Wins" looks likely to go much the same way from the start, although it does have a more interesting guitar line running through it. Unfortunately, the vocals are a little too low key for the music and are a little buried again and the lyrics are a little bland. Given how many decent tracks there have been on the album, it's a bit of a shame to have a couple of weak ones finish it off.
There are two versions of the album available, one of which is just the 13 tracks and 41 minutes of music listed above. The other comes with a DVD which contains a number of the band's videos and some live recordings and, thanks to the way the group have really embraced You Tube and used it to their advantage, this is actually the better version to be getting and is the version I have.
The DVD comes split into four sections, the first of which is "Rock Videos". This contains four videos which generally comprise of the band playing the song live in various locations. The "Do What You Want" video is probably the best song of the four, but the constantly shifting perspective does make it a little dizzying at times. The videos for "Invincible" and "Get Over It", the latter of which was the song that first got me into the band are simple enough, with cuts and split screen sections enhancing the lyrics, usually in amusing ways. The best video here is that for "Don't Ask Me", from their first album, which has the band and dancers in a black and white format with the occasional splashed of colour. The video reminds me of a cross between Ash and the White Stripes, although the song isn't terribly similar to either.
My favourite section is the "Dance Videos" section, which is again in four parts. The first and my favourite is the "Here It Goes Again" video, which has the band dancing on treadmills. It's a brilliantly choreographed routine and thanks to being backed by a great song, it's one I could watch over and over again without getting bored, and have done. The "A Million Ways" video is a silly dance routine in a back garden and the "Dances With You (Tube)" section was the competition the band ran for their fans to emulate this video and these are the results. The videos vary greatly in terms of effort and technical expertise as well as in location and dancing style. It's fun, but only really worth watching once. The same is true of their performance of "C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips" on the "Chica-go-go" show, which is possibly unintentionally hilarious, featuring a weak routine to a weak song making them look like a boy band in training.
The four parts of the "Tour Videos" section are quite a lot of fun as well, largely involving the band having a laugh while they're on the road. The graphics on the "Do What You Want" video can get a bit annoying at times, but it's mostly a laugh. The "You're So Damn Hot" section is essentially a video diary, showing them on- and back stage and the subtitle "Oh, to be young and on tour" is a perfect description of the content. The "Don't Ask Me (Dance Booth)" section is a bit hit and miss, as it's the band and fans on a dance booth they set up at shows. Some of them are trying too hard and some are just having a laugh, so the dances range from entertaining to cringeworthy. The acoustic version of "What to Do" is quite arty and pretentious and whilst the version of the song here is better than the album version, it's a bit of a waste of time.
The "Extra Stuff" section concentrates more on the "making of" style of things than song videos. The "OK Go on Oh No" section is a short video diary around the recording of the album. It's good to see even the technical staff enjoying the music as much as the band were, but this is just over four minutes you can watch once and then forget. Less so is the "Behind the Treadmills" segment, which is a behind the scenes look at preparation for the "Here it Goes Again" video. At 7 minutes long, it covers everything from practice, out-takes, preparation to do the routine live at the MTV Awards and even getting members of the public to try it to show how difficult it is. It's fairly lengthy at 7 minutes long, but it's well worth watching more than once, which I certainly have done, although not nearly as often as the video itself.
The last couple of parts of this section aren't nearly as worthwhile. The "Federal Truth in Music Project" is three mock public service videos running between 60 and 90 seconds in length. Unfortunately, much like some of the slower songs on the album, the vocals are buried under the music and given that the parts I managed to catch were quite funny, being able to hear them better would probably enhance the section. The last part is a video for "There's a Fire", which was based around a video game and so didn't really fit elsewhere. It's not a great song, although the video is entertaining enough and the ending is pretty funny.
The two versions of the album available tend to come with wildly different prices. The album only version can be picked up on eBay from as little as a penny and at that sort of price, it's certainly worth a listen. Prices for a new copy are just under £5.00 at both Amazon and Play, but I wouldn't advise paying that sort of money for it, as whilst "Oh No" is a much better album than "OK Go", that doesn't make it a great album by any means. The version with the added DVD is on Amazon and Play for nearly £11.00 and, despite the DVD adding much more to the album, it really isn't worth that much considering that the best parts of it are readily available for free on You Tube. If you can find a copy for 50p on eBay, as has been spotted, this is well worth the value, as for that money you get a lot of content, some of which is good enough to make that pretty decent value.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Do What You Want
3 Here It Goes Again
4 A Good Idea At The Time
5 Oh Lately It's So Quiet
6 It's A Disaster
7 A Million Ways
8 No Sign Of Life
9 Let It Rain
10 Crash The Party
11 Television, Television
12 Maybe, This Time
13 The House Wins
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Do What You Want
3 Get Over It
4 Don't Ask Me
5 Here It Goes Again (The Treadmill Video)
6 A Million Ways
7 OK Go Phenomenon V. 3
8 C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips (On Chica-go-go)
9 Do What You Want (Tour Version)
10 You're So Damn Hot
11 Don't Ask Me (Dance Booth)
12 What To Do
13 OK Go On Oh No
14 Behind The Treadmills
15 FTMP003 Superior Hygenics
16 FTMP005 Precision Accounting
17 FTMP006 Schizotypal Indicators
18 There's A Fire