January 1, 2008

Radioheads...

by Chris Randall
 

I have to be honest and say that I've not been a huge fan of Radiohead, and there was a period (well, all right, let's go ahead and say from OK Computer to Hail To The Thief) where I actively disliked them. But their recent album, both the release model and the album itself, have changed my opinion.


Plenty has been said about the release model, so I won't bother to equivocate on it here, except to say that you really have to be already famous for something like that to matter. I read the David Byrne "interview" with Thom Yorke in December's Wired, and Mr. Yorke essentially said the same thing. Lots of people give their album away, but the vast majority of those albums couldn't realistically be monetized in any meaningful fashion anyways, whereas the Radiohead album, because it's them, has significant intrinsic value.


In any case, we watched their studiocast last night on Current, and I was fairly impressed that they can get all of the feel and maybe 90% of the production quality in a live context. I have seen them live twice before, but I was in my hater phase, and was essentially bored to tears at the time. But with an objective eye, I have to say that what they're doing now puts them in the same meta-artist category as Underworld in my book. That is to say, the live show, their visual representation, the albums, and their web presence all are part and parcel of the package and essentially inseparable from each other. My wife pointed out that they've moved beyond the major label "Pre-made Pop Package" in to some other realm.


(I find it interesting to note at this juncture that both Radiohead and Underworld are on the same imprint here in the US.)


In any event, it does give one hope, although it takes a lot more ingenuity to pull off something like this than to just write a not-bad song and get signed. Thoughts?

 
 
 

13 comments:

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Jan.01.2008 @ 1:07 PM
Jinsai
"OK Computer" was their high point for me - the next few albums were interesting (and not fun to listen to) and since then I've just lost interest.

The new record is decent, but having gone through it a few times, I haven't heard anything that's made me want to go back again (unlike the new Underworld album, which grew on me considerably).

Then again, I'm old and almost every new record disappoints me, given that it has to compete with everything else I've ever heard.

I saw Radiohead several times in L.A. before "OK Computer" really blew them up, and they do put on a fantastic live show. They're clearly "the real deal". I just wish I liked their music more!

 
 

 
Jan.01.2008 @ 4:06 PM
quantize
Hmm i think both albums are in a similar vein in that they shy away from the previous expectations of both bands..

I thought the webcast was terrific and I've never been a huge Radiohead fan, unlike Underworld who I even saw way back when there was only 20 people in the audience and they were still 'underneath the radar' (ok the music was a little dodgy, but they were even great as a live new wave band)

Anyway, both albums have grown on me enormously, it's a shame there wasn't a definitive Sunshine OST as some of the collaborative UW stuff in that is superb.

 
 

 
Jan.01.2008 @ 4:34 PM
inverseroom
I like them--their albums aren't all equally good, but they are absolute professionals and totally dedicated to what they do. I'm actually quite a fan of this new record and ponied up for the big box...the "book" is a fucking ripoff (it consists of a bunch of splatter paintings and nothing else), but the record itself is on four sides at 45 RPM and sounds like a million bucks, which redeems them completely.

They are always, always interesting. There aren't many acts you can say that about.

 
 

 
Jan.01.2008 @ 9:13 PM
revmutt
Didn't a number of lesser known artists do something of this nature?

yeah sure, it takes a band who has the cash and the audience already but it still doesn't solve the problem that those crappy 16 bit disks are so overpriced and that enforces the dumb idea that music should be free.

 
 

 
Jan.02.2008 @ 12:16 AM
space_monkey
Personally, I find their singer's voice and singing style to be incredibly irritating. If it wasn't for that, I would probably like them. I haven't heard the new album yet, though.
 
 

 
Jan.02.2008 @ 1:03 AM
valis
I was fully in the hater camp for his first 2 albums due to the soppy lyrics and my disinterest in emotional outpourings over a guitar. I had an ex that was infatuated with Thom Yorke (however you spell it) based mostly on his lazy eye and soppy lyrics and this compounded the issue somewhat, but only a little bit.

Then he partook in the Psyence Fiction UNKLE thing and my 'downtempo' friends decided Thom was cool, and yet that album was lost on me too. I recall it was supposed to be the next Entroducing or something and I recieved more 'promo' copies of the singles/eps/cds/lps from that UNKLE collab than I did for Robert Miles "Children" (which seemed to appear magically everytime I gave the newest unopened copy away or threw it out the window as if the Elves of Nausea were haunting me that year).

Now years later I have to give a nod Radiohead's cross blending of IDM and whatever their emo super/sub genre is, but I'd still rather put on something without lyrics. It is commendable though that Radiohead does such a creative job with their work, and didn't just rehash their first 2 albums ad naseum as is so often the case with 'successful' mainstream acts (or get Carl Cox to produce their great 'breakthrough tekno/trance/rock fusion album' etc).

 
 

 
Jan.02.2008 @ 7:52 AM
stevo83
god bless ol'radiohead and all who sail upon them.

i do find that the last three albums have about five standout tracks on them with the rest either being slightly interesting or totally wank, which is a shame cos they were the first band i got into (when i was about twelve). Due to this reason i always get ridiculously excited when a new album comes out.... and then become a tad dissapointed when i hear it.

they are still ten times better than any other guitar/rock band around at the mo though, and jonny greenwood is a guitar legend (the paranoid android guitar solos are the dogs bollocks in my opinion).

 
 

 
Jan.02.2008 @ 8:27 AM
nylarch
I think seeing them live the summer of '01 in Grant Park made Kid A and Amnesiac take hold for me - I love those 2 records. They're making beautiful noise and sounding like Charles Mingus' bastard sons:

link [www.youtube.com]">link [www.youtube.com]


 
 

 
Jan.02.2008 @ 11:25 AM
peterBING!
emo? riiiiiiiiiiiiight
 
 

 
Jan.02.2008 @ 11:59 AM
Chris Randall
Yeah, I was gonna say. I've had to sit through hundreds of Vagrant shows and I think I have a pretty good grasp on what emo is, and Radiohead ain't it.

That's neither here nor there, though. I wasn't really interested in talking about Radiohead's quality as a band, but rather the concept of the meta-release in general, as Radiohead and Underworld realize it.

-CR

 
 

 
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