Category Archives: Radiohead

Hail to the Thief-RADIOHEAD-2003

Are you such a dreamer?
To put the world to rights?

I’ll stay home forever
Where two & two always
makes up five

There is nothing you can do to ward off the inevitable doom and facing that reality makes you want to cover up, buy a gun and sitRadiohead_-_Hail_to_the_Thief_-_album_cover (1) behind the door and watch the world burn on TV. Does it make you mad, this self destruction of the human race? Well you can be cynical or shout your heart out, or both, which is what Radiohead do. “2+2 = 5″ opens the best album that Radiohead has ever recorded bar Kid A, maybe. They bring the guitars back to drive the songs forward, with greater force, and use the electronica elements displayed on Amnesiac and Kid A to support them, to add that quirkiness that is this unique freak of a band. It is not that they play notes that you have never heard, for example “Sit Down. Stand Up” uses a kick ass piano motif to propel the intro consisting of 4-5 notes, but it is the arrangement, atmosphere and the crushing weight of reality that make me listen to this album on repeat.

Oh, and look, there is the contemplative ballad which might just be the follow up to “High and Dry” from The Bends, the unsettling, but oh so pretty “Sail to the Moon”. Is ballad, the wrong word? Maybe not for a band with its roots as firmly planted in romanticism as Radiohead (which doesn’t only mean “love” as popularly understood, twerps). Happily on this album they use traditional song writing techniques to just give us one solid song after song, and while this lacks the cohesive atmosphere of Kid A or OK Computer, it maintains that unity of mood and pace, not to mention that the melodies and vocals of Thom Yorke are at their brilliant best. Are these songs about larger concepts like the whole human race or personal songs of grief, pain and loss? The best thing is, they are both and simultaneously are musically the peak of Radiohead. What a helluva of a rock’n’roll album. It is like they captured heartbreak, made it catchy and with a twisted smile said, “There, there.”

there’s always a siren
singing you to shipwreck.
steer away from these rocks,  we’d be a walking disaster.

-Baba T


Cold and Desolate are the words.

After the grand success of OK Computer, Radiohead were touted as the “saviors” of rock music, as the band that had taken up the baton from Floyd and the Beatles into the next century for making intelligent rock music and breaking MTV pop trends. Yeah, right. Why do the media take every good, pure thing and mess it up? Radiohead is a good, intelligent band with a penchant in 1997 for writing good guitar rock songs, but they were not saviors because, firstly rock music does not need to be “saved”, secondly, only a generation fed on a steady diet of MTV and VH1 would be overly impressed with OK Computer, which, mind you, is a good album, a nice album, but it is not a legendary album, is not a paradigm changing piece of music. Alternative rock saw lots of more awesome albums in the 90’s, but hey, the mainstream couldn’t be bothered to see beyond Paranoid Android. Fuck you, mainstream. In any case, you should know that Kid A inaugurated the second period in the musical evolution of Radiohead.

However, if Kid A had got the same praise which got handed down to its predecessor, I would have agreed, to most of it anyway. That it got a mixed reaction shows how stupid people can be, and I am including professional music writers in on this one. Kid A saw Radiohead abandoning rock music’s totally understandable obsession with guitar riffs and licks and moving towards layers, textures and beats. This is called post-rock for a reason. No, it is not only electronic trance music. Yes, it incorporates elements of electronica heavily, as well as ambient music (think Brian Eno), jazz, etc, not to mention elements of soundtrack music from 50’s British pictures, which sound (purposely) dated.

But that is not the reason that I dote on this album so much. It is because Radiohead perfected the art of conveying ideas, mood, concepts, hell, images, through sound alone. Take the title track for a second here. Notice the underlying piano motif which puts me in the mind of a children’s juke box. Layered on top of the piano are the vocals(Thom Yorke), distorted beyond recognition, sounding like a child and an adult at the same time. I won’t mention my interpretation of the music, because I fully understand that that is not the purpose. The purpose is not to convey a certain ideology or thought process. The purpose is to ensure that everybody gets to take away some sort of interpretation or imagery after listening to this. Kid A isn’t a path to anywhere; it’s an open field, vast and unrestricted.

Recommended Tracks – All of ‘em.

-Baba T

The Bends-RADIOHEAD-1995

It is one step ahead, in fact, a lot of steps ahead of the debut, Pablo Honey. But in the main it is still guitar rock. Nice Alternative guitar rock from the early 9o’s, that’s what it is. Emotionally, they are Radiohead. And you know what that means, doncha?? Our mechanical future and all that stuff. Alienation. Contempt for modern society. Basically they began as sad prophets singing and later on making futuristic songs, and then just kept getting better at the same. This was the start, so yes, the songs are not as good and dystopian as on Kid A, which I would say is the essential Radiohead, but still, some of the songs on here are among the best Radiohead ever wrote, and the best thing is, this is the most “catchy “ and “easy” album they ever made. Well, unless they get up one day and say “hey I am bored of this emo keyboard shit..lets get out and rock!!!”. And trust me at this point in their career, that is soooo not gonna happen.

As I said, this is very listenable, unlike later albums like Kid A and Amnesiac, which are a very hit miss for many people, and you only start understanding those with patience and regular listening. Those are not gonna hit you at the first listen. However, on this one, though the songs don’t make all that of an impact, and are very understated in a unique Radiohead fashion, you easily get into the thing. However, the song that deserves a special mention is the closer “Street Spirit”. It’s like with the last song they said, “hey, here is a taster of what the rest of the albums are gonna be like from now on, so say bye-bye to clean guitar riffs!! Say hello to piano, horns, trombones and our mechanical, ravished future!! We are the voice of the disenchanted, alientated generation of today. WOOOOO!!!”

Recommended Songs-Street Spirit(Fade Out), High and Dry, The Bends, Fake Plastic Trees

- Baba T

More RADIOHEAD reviews HERE.



OK Computer – RADIOHEAD – 1997

OK Computer is supposedly a landmark album in Alternative Rock. Someone even wrote a book about it. Luckily, I’m not swayed by any of these things, because I’ve heard very little of Radiohead till now (yes, Creep). Anyway, I gave this a good listen, and I have a few things to say about it, so read on.

A literal encapsulation of lyrics themes, this.

A literal encapsulation of lyrical themes, this.

I love the concept behind the composition of this piece. Even though its clearly a guitar driven band, there is a sense of coherence and teamwork to the sound which other one-instrument led bands don’t. Structures of individual songs don’t seem to be a fixed thing. They keep shifting and moulding themselves into inexplicably shaped pieces of music, and its not entirely clear whether the music follows the lyrics or vice-versa. Also, I do think that this is the very first commercial cyberpunk album, with lyrics embracing vaguely technology related contemporary/futuristic themes, that seem quite fit with a rather dystopian vision of the future. Movie buffs will instantly connect with what I’m saying, once I tell them that it reminds me of Blade Runner and The Matrix.

This technology theme seems to extend to the overall sound of the album, which is by all means one of the best incorporations of electronica into rock music that I have heard. Ever. The mellotron in “Exit Music” is just soooooo bleak. Bleaker still is the articulation of the lyrics. There is quiet desperation and tiredness in Yorke’s voice. I was quite ready to say that it gets drawling and irritating, but amazingly, it sounds sustainably tolerable throughout the album. Being someone who plays an instrument, I find this album full of moments, both melodic and rhythmic, when I go, “Hey, that’s a great idea!”

Despite all this high praise, I have certain problems. Radiohead hasn’t forgotten to experiment successfully. What they have forgotten, crucially, is groove. This album has no swing. At all. It might not be what the band was looking for, but for me, that ends up deducting vital points off the listen-ability of this album. I don’t remember shaking my head to the music even once. The best analogy I can draw is this; the lack of groove in a song is like having an immensely luxurious car without an engine. Quite literally, the music doesn’t move you. Further, there is literally no mood alteration in this album. It’s like having sopping wet evenings for a month. Even if you like the rain, it’s bound to eventually depress you.

I have a friend. He likes being sad, in a world-weary sort of way. I wholeheartedly recommend this album to him. That’s the only sort of emotional outlet this album provides. Otherwise, while it shines an incorporation of electronica into rock music, its incomplete as an emotional experience. And to someone who has been trying hard to unreservedly like some aspect of Alt Rock, this doesn’t sound right.

El Bajista


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