Wednesday, January 7, 2009
in praise of Radiohead.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am almost unhealthily obsessed with the music of those limey pricks, Radiohead. When I was just a young jurk, age 13, the song "Creep" came out. It instantly polarized with me, not because of the lyrics so much, but the music. I dug the chord progression, the voice, and the impossible to ignore "chuh-chunk" of Johnny Greenwood's guitar. I taped it off the radio (god, remember those days?) and eventually squirrelled up enough money to buy the cassette. (remember those days too?) From that point on, I WAS DONE. I knew I had found my musical taste wheelhouse. I'm all over the place musically, but I've had the same favorite band for the past 16 years. No one else has come close.
Here is an attempt similiar to my "breakdown" of Linkin Park, the positive version.
A- Let's start with Thom Yorke's voice. The phrase "often immitated, never duplicated" comes to mind. It started great, and only got better; this is a common theme in Radiohead's vast catalogue. More on that later. It is not only pleasing to listen to, but in my opinion, an iconic sound. No one sounds like Thommy boy. Thommy like singy!
B- Moving on to their song-writing process. I have read that Thom will bang out a rough draft of just about every song, play it for the other 4, (Johnny Greenwod, Colin Greenwood, Phil Selway, Ed O-Brien) and they will have at it. Each one adding their own genius until a Radiohead song is created. If you look in the liner notes on any of their albums, each song's writing credit is "Radiohead". No names.
I can respect this. F*ck Paul McCartney. F*ck John Lennon. WE wrote this.
C- The fact that they've dared to do things that could cause critical backlash. In particular, the albums Kid A and Amnesiac. Have you heard this? They're not noise-rock, they're not unlistenable, (they're actually very melodic) but those two albums were such a departure from the extremely lauded OK Computer that I've read people call it "a betrayal of fans". Not true. Kid A went platinum with no single, no videos, no radio play, very little hype other than fan anticipation and word of mouth. Also, their latest release "In Rainbows" was released online for the price of "you choose". And it was announced on their website 10 days prior to this. That's it. Yet they made more money off this one than 2003's Hail to the Chief, their last obligation to EMI.
D- The songs are just so DAMN GOOD! Seriously, they have gotten better and better over the years. Here are a few key tracks I highly recommend, in no order:
-Like Spinning Plates
-The National Anthem
-A Wolf at the Door
-The Amazing Sounds of Orgy
-How to Disappear Completely
...well, there it is. Get to listenin'.
E- Live. Seeing Radiohead live. This is something that CANNOT be passed up, should you have the chance. Not only do they sound incredible, but they use some unique visuals to enhance the experience. I saw them this past august, and they had what I can only describe as what appeared to be pipe organ pipes, all over the stage. Yet when they started playing, these "pipes" came alive with light somehow, and at one point, there appeared to be a condensed galaxy on stage. That's the only way I can describe it. Besides amazing.
Well, that's it, I love me some Radiohead, always will.
Keeping with the music theme, next on the couch: Coldplay.