June 21, 2006


Radiohead dances, tinkers -- fans love it (JIM DEROGATIS, 6/21/06, Chicago Sun-Times)

[T]here is absolutely nothing natural about Radiohead's music. This is the sound of digital overload and a high-tech nervous breakdown -- a system crash of harrowing proportions. But like a flower springing up from the concrete, "the utterance of life" nevertheless seeps through, generally via the haunting melodies of Thom Yorke, whose voice is, admittedly, an acquired taste; it has taken me years to be won over by the charms of its spastic hiccups.

Taking a cue from one of its inspirations, the Pink Floyd of the mid-'70s, the British art-rock quintet is using this tour to road test and tweak its new material in the midst of recording its seventh album, expected in 2007. The disc doesn't as yet have a name or a home; one of the biggest rock bands in the world is currently without a major-label record deal, and it's seriously considering whether it even needs one. Of the 23 songs in its almost two-hour set, nine were new numbers, complete with plenty of kinks still to be worked out, and unfamiliar to the majority of its fans. Yet the audience embraced these challenging sounds as if they were already chart-topping hits.

This is another trait that Radiohead shares with Pink Floyd circa "Wish You Were Here" and "Animals": Despite the avant-garde nature of much of its music, it has become a platinum-selling superstar act, somehow fashioning arena rock out of the most difficult sonic experiments.

This is a feat that is best appreciated onstage, where the interaction between Yorke, the sonic alchemist tag team of guitarists, keyboardists and noisemakers Jonny Greenwood and Ed O'Brien, and the fluid yet mechanically precise rhythms of bassist Colin Greenwood and drummer Phil Selway pack a visceral punch that can be obscured by the layers of electronics or the intentional fragility of the band's recordings.

Can't wait to hear what Luther Wright does with OK Computer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 21, 2006 9:33 AM

I gave Kid A and OK Computer numerous chances in my headphones. The most positive emotion either of these disks evoked was "now *that's mildly interesting." I just don't get it. But then again, I never much liked Pink Floyd. Brian Eno was making much more adventurous and passionate music using electronics in the early 70s than either of these bands.

Posted by: ted welter at June 21, 2006 9:52 AM

They're no Burt Bacharach.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 21, 2006 11:55 AM

Needs more cowbell.

Posted by: Rick T. at June 21, 2006 2:52 PM

They are an excellent band. It's no accident that their only mediocre album is "Hail to the Thief", their "anti-Bush" recording ... I've high hopes for the next one. By the way, I'd say it's more accurate to say they are influenced by the Three M's (Miles, Mingus and Monk) than by Pink Floyd. Thank God they are still touring material before recording it ... a winning M.O.

Posted by: Brother Qiao at June 21, 2006 6:38 PM