I am very surprised that this subforum has no thread on Radiohead yet. I've recently become very familiar with them, and they are, in my opinion, one of the most accomplished bands on the current music scene, and one of the greatest bands of all time. So I figured they're worthy of a thread.
Genres of music:
Thom Yorke (vocals, rhythm guitar, piano)
Colin Greenwood (bass guitar, synthesizers)
Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboard, Ondes Martenot)
Ed O'Brien (guitar, backing vocals, percussion)
Phil Selway (drums and percussion)
All five band members are involved in manipulation of electronic instruments to some degree.
Pablo Honey (1993)
The Bends (1995)
OK Computer (1997)
Kid A (2000)
Hail to the Thief (2003)
Their as-yet-untitled seventh studio album is expected in 2007.
Initially dismissed as a one-hit wonder for the success of their song Creep, they exonerated themselves of that title with the release of their sophomore album The Bends. Their third album, OK Computer, gained them even more immense critical praise and multiplatinum sales, and is widely considered one of the greatest albums of the 1990s.
However, suffocated by their overwhelming success and resenting expectations set before them by some as "rock saviors," their fourth album Kid A (and its follow-up, Amnesiac) marked a drastic change in style that polarized critics and listeners, while gaining the band even more popularity and acclaim.
Their latest album, Hail to the Thief, marks more stylistic changes while retaining elements of their previous albums. Their as-yet-unnamed and enigmatic seventh album, in the works since 2005, is expected for release sometime in 2007.
Radiohead's sound generally varies from album to album. I'm not familiar with their debut, Pablo Honey, but I've heard it described as a "wall of guitar" sound - simple, loud, aggressive, grungy, and generally unspectacular other than the presence of Creep (which I don't even like that much).
The Bends is a more refined, subtle album. Inspired by R.E.M., Morrissey, and Magazine (among others), the arrangements are more developed, the vocals are mostly softer (sometimes falsetto), and strings and keyboards have some presence. The album has heavily guitar-oriented songs like Just, Bones, and My Iron Lung, but features ballad-esque songs such as High and Dry, Nice Dream, and Fake Plastic Trees.
OK Computer has a spacy, eerie sound compared to the dense, warm atmospheres of The Bends. The keyboards and strings are used more hauntingly, and there is some experimentation with ambience and electronic sounds (one track, Fitter Happier, is entirely "sung" by a Macintosh speech program). The lyrics shy away from personal topics, instead focusing on the outside world. Two songs featured on this album, the epic Paranoid Android and the mysterious Karma Police, are among Radiohead's most popular (and definitely two of my favorites).
Kid A almost completely eschews the "art rock" of OK Computer, focusing on electronic instrumentation, ambient sounds, and minimalist soundscapes. The album heavily utilizes drum machines, synthesizers, altered vocals, and the obscure Ondes Martenot, with influences from jazz and classical music. Guitars serve to build the overall "sound picture" rather than driving the songs (though some songs, such as Optimistic and In Limbo, are heavily guitar-oriented). The lyrics are highly abstract, and sometimes completely random, literally pulled out of a hat and fit together Dada-style.
While I'm not very familiar with Amnesiac, the songs on the album were made during the same time period as Kid A, but the band didn't think they fit as part of Kid A. It's generally considered less accomplished and cohesive than Kid A, but it features fan favorites such as Pyramid Song and Knives Out.
Hail to the Thief has a very ominous, intense atmosphere, featuring a mix of guitar-oriented songs, electronically-driven songs, minimalist songs, and a significant piano presence. The album has some noteworthy songs, and a very cohesive feel like OK Computer and Kid A, but is not quite as spectacular as those two albums, feeling more like a collection of "good" songs.
My favorite Radiohead songs...
Fake Plastic Trees (The Bends)
Black Star (The Bends)
The Bends (The Bends)
Planet Telex (The Bends)
Let Down (OK Computer)
Airbag (OK Computer)
Subterranean Homesick Alien (OK Computer)
Paranoid Android (OK Computer)
The National Anthem (Kid A)
Idioteque (Kid A)
Everything In Its Right Place (Kid A)
How To Disappear Completely (Kid A)
Sail to the Moon (Hail To The Thief)
So... there's my giant love letter to Radiohead. Discuss your favorite albums and songs, discuss the band itself (e.g. political activism, their Dead Air Space blog), discuss their B-sides and unreleased songs, and thoughts about the next album.