Take Me To Your Leader

Dear Reader.

It is time for honesty and it is time to come clean. Recently, I was asked to name the biggest musical disappointment of 2007. My answer was Radiohead's In Rainbows. Now before you throw your computer to the floor or do a Google image search of me in order to use my face as an office dartboard... before you begin composing a vitriolic comment that will take you the entire day to write, allow me to save you some time, and please, let me explain.

For one, I respect Radiohead. I admire the fact that In Rainbows was released via the Internet and that they allowed their fans to determine the value of the songs by paying whatever they wanted. Second, I love complexity: music that hurts your head as much as it does your heart, takes twenty listens to make sense of, and that stretches into irregular beauty as much as it coheres to its more traditional forms.

I think my disappointment in Radiohead is really just a disappointment in myself. Another Radiohead album means yet another year I've let myself down. (That's a total of seven years, but who's counting, right?) I feel like the only one yet to embrace them, but that can't possibly be true. Yet each coffee shop I enter is playing In Rainbows and I hear Radiohead songs in the static bleed of nearly every headphone mix in my vicinity.

When I listen to Radiohead I feel like I've just heard the sonic version of Don Delillo's White Noise. It's eerie, cold, and foreboding. There is a blankness I find difficult to move beyond. I know their music is supposed to capture an ennui, to explain our fragmented selves or our disconnect from the world. But I can't find my way into the songs. I'm not asking for an easy path; in fact, I appreciate an arduous one just as much. Maybe what I'm looking for is a reason why I should clear the way so that the music can find me.

I wish someone could write out in a few words (not a phD dissertation, not a book) why Radiohead should stab me in the heart, and why I should lighten up and let them in.



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usually what winds up being my favorite albums are the ones that i have to put down for 6 months, and then go back for later when im ready to put some time and work into it.

but havent you had albums that you had to work to like, and then loved all that much more because of the preparation it took to get into them?

however, in rainbows wont be one of those. i think it will be remembered more for the statement it made and how it was released than as a milestone in their musical catalog. it just doesnt hold up to their strongest work.

Sent by DTC | 5:19 PM | 12-4-2007

I've never liked Radiohead. I think it's a bit silly that there's a conception that if you don't love them, you're not a real music fan.

Sent by Emily | 5:24 PM | 12-4-2007

no worries, i'm in the same boat. apparently according to most fans/radiohead heads (if you will) i just don't "get it".

maybe in ten years their genius will dawn on me but for now i'm just not there..

Sent by Muna | 5:25 PM | 12-4-2007

I think you should listen Debussy solo piano pieces instead of Radiohead.

I really like Kid A a lot though.

Sent by Gary Drechsel | 5:30 PM | 12-4-2007

Believe me you are not the only one yet to embrace them. They almost had me with OK Computer, almost but not quite.

Sent by J.W.G. | 5:37 PM | 12-4-2007

OMG, finally someone else who doesn't get it. my gf is way into them, as well as most of my friends, and i've tried repeatedly to feel this music, and it escapes me. i will say, though, that in rainbows came pretty close after the 1st listen. haven't gotten to the 2nd listen yet...

Sent by scott | 5:44 PM | 12-4-2007

First, try renaming them to White Noise or something that will erase your expectations that this is a Radiohead album. Next, smoke pot or put yourself into a trance of depression and self-loathing. If that doesn't work, a bottle of gin will usually do it. Finally, put on headphones and go for a bike ride, or something that requires multitasking and a somewhat indirect focus on the music (please be careful, though). In the auditory equivalent of murky peripheral vision, they're going to sound great.

Sent by Jim Brucker | 5:47 PM | 12-4-2007

I don't think i can convince you of their emotional impact, unless you have felt it yourself.

But, i will say that although i respect that you admire them, you should consider that their offering of In Rainbows as a box set of vinyl/cd in a box, for about $80.00US should alert you to people getting taken.

For those out there who don't know how this works, here are the costs:

Box - $5.00 (per unit)
Double Vinyl at 180grams- $1.75 each ($3.50 total)
Packaging/Printing - $1.40 per unit

Total Cost to manufacture = about $8.90 per unit.

Total Cost to purchase it = $80.00, not including the $22.00 shipping from the UK.

I feel like i am getting taken, and as a band i respect them alot less. Musically, they make a beautiful racket, but i know that it is not healthy to confuse beautiful music with gouging commerce.

Also, just to correct a misconception - their offering of their record for people to set their own price was not a gift to the listener. It was a backhanded gift to themselves.

The mp3s were encoded so badly that it wasn't worth it. (barely better than iTunes.)

If you paid for it, and you are on an audio system that can't tell the difference, then that's your cross to bear, or not, depending on how you look at it.

All they did with the mp3s of the record was leak it to the public themselves, and allow people to pay for the leak.

There is merit in discussing this, but it seems that downloads, although they may seem rampant, are likely not effecting consumers. Here's a good test report that shows that file sharing/peer to peer sharing/downloads, and so forth, do not hurt CD sales:

Nonetheless, for all of the media hype about how Radiohead is redefining an artist's life on a Major Label, the record is coming out on a major label subsidiary in the US, owned and run through Universal by the manager of the Dave Matthews Band, in the new year.

If you want to hear it, i'd encourage everyone to just buy it and listen to it at the regular 16bit encoding of a CD in the new year. If you want to preview it, download it for free, or sit quietly in whatever community you live/work in. Someone has it running on their headphones or on their desktop speakers, and you can pick it up out of the ether.

You do not need to post this, as it is likely what you meant by a PhD dissertation, or a book, but i thought i would share as i respect your work, and i like what you are doing with the blog.

No, this isn't what I meant by a dissertation. This is great, thanks. -CB

Sent by Greg Hammerli | 5:53 PM | 12-4-2007

I've always been put off by Mr. Yorke's whiny voice. There are two CD's by pianist Christopher O'Riley where he plays Radiohead songs. I'm partial to those. "Knives Out" sounds really good as Muzak.

Sent by Michael Wooff | 6:09 PM | 12-4-2007

I don't think Radiohead should stab you in the heart. They are talented musicians. They know how to make you feel, well, empty to the music they make. But there is nothing about them that will reach out, grab you by the collar and shake you til you love them. Please, don't waste your time trying so hard.

Sent by brittani | 6:11 PM | 12-4-2007

"Maybe what I'm looking for is a reason why I should clear the way so that the music can find me."

There is an old story, probably apocryphal, about a talented baseball player named Bill Terry, who was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame, but apparently not the friendliest of fellows. One person said about Terry, "Everyone says he's a good guy once you get to know him. But why bother?"

Sent by Steven | 6:15 PM | 12-4-2007

I admire Radiohead since they're from "our" side of the musical fence and make "weird" music wildly popular to the masses. This is good.

But I really don't like their music much beyond 'The Bends.' I like rock songs.

You nailed it Carrie with a "cold blankness" that I really can't get beyond. They seem very detached and overly mysterious which doesn't contribute to the band/fan model. At least for me.

Sent by Jason M. | 6:16 PM | 12-4-2007


If you lived in the UK you'd be used to this kind of thing. Not for nothing is my country known as 'rip-off Britain'. Today I went to buy music vouchers for my dad's upcoming birthday and in my local record shop (I can just about still call it that I guess - HMV) they were selling regular run of the mill chart albums for ??17.17! That's what $34? Who else would put up with that?

I did really like 'In Rainbows' though, but I don't consider myself a Radiohead 'fan' even if I do own several of their previous records. I do think this merits repeat listening but I didn't find it hard work or paper worthy, but stood up on its own merits.

Sent by Julia | 6:17 PM | 12-4-2007

Eh, Radiohead's okay. I haven't heard the new album. I don't care. There are few bands I will rush right out (or online) to buy their new album. Just as there are few bands I'll stand in a crowd for. Radiohead is not one of these bands. There are other people doing similar work, but better.

P.S. I'd rather stab myself in the eye than read another book by Don DeLillo. All I remember is the station wagons and I shut off after that. What a pile.

I like DeLillo, actually. But I wouldn't want his books to be turned into musicals. -CB

Sent by Elizabeth | 6:19 PM | 12-4-2007

I don't understand their pull either. It seems like background music. Kinda neutral. Good for a snooze.

Sent by rockynotbullwinkle | 6:28 PM | 12-4-2007

i don't list radiohead as one of my favorite bands, but i do like a lot of their songs. how can you not like "my iron lung," "fake plastic trees," "no surprises?" i can't resist a good sad song.

Sent by Lauren | 6:33 PM | 12-4-2007

You want a reason, two words, "stop thinking". What I mean is stop trying to dissect it, some of the best music out there is the stuff that you hear it and you feel it and yes it makes you think, but I don't think you should have to force yourself to like a band, either you do or you don't. Which brings me to my point is that if you have to "think" of reasons to get into them and can't enjoy the music for what it is, which doesn't always have an underlying deep message, then what's the use. I personally love Radiohead, always have and always will, they can do no wrong by me, and I respect you opinion, but it shouldn't be work to like a band, imo.

Sent by Dan | 6:33 PM | 12-4-2007

Let me try to make a brief case for In Rainbows, or at least recommend a different way of thinking about it:

While I would agree that much of the Radiohead aesthetic is about anomie and alienation, and that much of their music explores this mood, I actually think that many songs on "In Rainbows" are notable for having a very different tone.

Specifically, try listening to "All I Need" or "House of Cards" as straight-up love songs. I think that if you can shelve your expectations about Radiohead songs' darkness, you might open up to these tracks' deeply sexual, soulful character.

Or not. But, for me, the "In Rainbows" songs rank very high in the Radiohead canon because of their being so earthy and physical. They totally do it for me.

Sent by Cary Clarke | 6:47 PM | 12-4-2007

I think you hit the nail on the head with "cold." Their music doesn't sound sad to me (like, say, Mountain Goats or Nick Drake), it sounds withdrawn, emotionless and distant. Difficult music is great, but some kind of human connection, apparent after a few listens, seems necessary for a band to be really great. Even the "cold" bands I really like--e.g. Autechre, The Fall, No-U-Turn drum & bass--have something going on emotionally besides pure distance. I don't see why you have to apologize for anything--it's not as if you said you don't like LED ZEPPELIN for god's sake! Now then we'd have to talk...

Sent by David G. | 6:48 PM | 12-4-2007

I am listening to Disc 2 of In Rainbows as I write this, and it seems terribly appropriate.

I've been a HUGE fan since The Bends came out and I've seen them 3 times, and would go again in heartbeat given the chance.

I agree with Dan, you should not have to find a reason to like Radiohead, they are either in your heart or they aren't. I find myself pleasantly transported when I listen them -- lifted up into the space that may be Thom Yorke's cold bleakness, but lifted nonetheless. I also think they are extremely talented musicians, and I don't think they sound like anyone else, not an easy feat in the musical world of today.

And okay, you don't like In Rainbows, but what about OK Computer? Seeing Paranoid Android live is about as good as it gets, imho.....

Sent by Setya | 6:53 PM | 12-4-2007

A friend of mine once put up a picture of Carson Daly on his dart board. I think he just wanted everyone that walked by to say, "Hey look, this guy doesn't seem to like Carson Daly very much at all." Though come to think of it, I don't remember seeing any darts or dart-shaped holes in the picture. Those were heady days.

Anyhoo, if people out there think they're missing out on some secret code embedded in Radiohead's music that loosens their Seratonin valve or something, stop it. The reason you don't like them as much as everyone else is probably the same reason you don't like Spoon. (Sorry Britt.) Once someone says that something is "great," but you can only hear "good," it's already too late. For the rest of your life you're gonna spend your time wondering what your missing instead of just listening to some good music. That's my advice for listeners of Radiohead, don't try to Pitchfork it into whether or not it's a 6.1 or 9.3 and why. Just listen to it. Oh, and also listen to Husker Du, they're pretty rad.

Sent by jAKOB | 7:08 PM | 12-4-2007

I really like Radiohead. Sometimes I love them. I'm not an expert on Radiohead, nor a worshipper of them. I find "In Rainbows" to be disarmingly pretty and, as Cary Clarke says above, surprisingly "earthy and physical." That said, I don't think it's necessarily the best way to break down your resistances.

Rather than trying to take on the whole band, the whole oeuvre, the whole myth at once, may I suggest trying one song?
By far my favorite song of theirs is "Let Down." This may be an indication of the fact that I'm not a fullblown fanatic for them; I mean, if you were to ask me my favorite Waits or Dylan song, I could not do it. The lyrics of "Let Down" are explicitly the Radiohead you describe: "The emptiest of feelings/ Disappointed people clinging onto bottles." But it doesn't just stay there. It moves. The lyrics and music move to some other place which, if not transcendent itself, at least opens the possibility of the imagining of transcendence. If you know what I mean.

So listen to "Let Down." But you should be a little sad when you do it, maybe even more than a little. And turn it up loud. Really loud. No, I meant LOUD.

Sent by Piggy | 7:09 PM | 12-4-2007

Re Greg Hammerli:

You said that the total cost to purchase the DiscBox version was $80.00, plus $22.00 shipping from the UK.

Actually, the DiscBox was priced at ??40.00, which included shipping and handling to anywhere. I have no idea why you had to pay an extra $22.00. And while it's true that ??40.00 comes out to, roughly $80.00, the weak US dollar can't be blamed on Radiohead. If this were, say, 2001, the cost of the DiscBox would be about $56.00.

Also, I'm not sure I'm on board with your estimate that the total cost to manufacture the DiscBox is Total about $8.90 per unit. You've only estimated the cost of a box, double vinyl, and packaging/printing.

Although I haven't received my DiscBox yet, it's supposed to contain the vinyl, 2 CDs, artwork and lyric booklets and it is supposed to be encased in a hardback book. They are being "made to order," whatever that means. Finally, you are not including the cost to record the album--remember, Radiohead is label-less now so they presumably fronted the cost of studio time, etc.

Sent by Mick (not "Mick") | 7:17 PM | 12-4-2007

I adore Radiohead, I always have-- but hey, people are supposed to like different kinds of music. The world would be so boring if we all listened to the same thing.

Sent by roman | 7:21 PM | 12-4-2007

i have tried to be interested in radiohead, and never even had the stamina to keep trying - much, i suppose, like how i put white noise down after sixty pages.

Sent by puck | 7:23 PM | 12-4-2007

since I'm getting old and my being-in-a-band days have passed, I should say that one of the best ideas I ever had for a song title or album name was very close to the title of this blog post: "Tape Me to Your Leader"

Quite absurd, yes...

Sent by joe | 7:30 PM | 12-4-2007

I agree with you a lot... Radiohead do make challenging music but I can't make much sense of all the praise that is immediately thrown at them. It's good music but why is it so special, you know? The only album of theirs I truly love is The Bends, also easily their most accessible. Go Figure.

As for my biggest disappointment, that'd have to be the new Against Me! record, New Wave. To have put so much faith in a punk rock band and their ability to hold true to themselves and their fans in the face of commercialism only to have them completely fail you is totally disheartening.

Sent by Joe Gallagher | 7:34 PM | 12-4-2007

I haven't listened to In Rainbows enough to really form an opinion about it. I guess it has been good background music at most to me so far. I just don't see how anybody can be disappointed after being so for 7 consecutive albums, wouldn't you have just given up. To be disappointed you must have had expectations which weren't met; I feel that your expectations were met after trying to listen to them for 7 albums. I also wonder how many people would comment praising the album if you have, or at least have made more positive comments about it. As for me I feel as well that I try a little too hard to get into their music, they are a hit or miss for me who have written some amazing songs. There must have been an album you were more disappointed in this year.

Sent by Oli | 7:46 PM | 12-4-2007

I've always been someone who didn't "get" Radiohead either and I long ago decided to let go of it. I like the song "Karma Police" a bit because I really enjoyed the melody and the piano part but everything else by them has left me flat.

I felt bad for 5 minutes that I've only liked one song off of each Arcade Fire album and then realized that I'm just going to like what I like and dislike what I dislike and try not to care about what I "should" like.

Sent by Chriso | 7:48 PM | 12-4-2007

I still don't understand all of the hoopla ten years ago surrounding 'OK Computer'. Sure, it was a pretty good cd, but everyone acted like it was the Second Coming of Sgt. Pepper. That being said, I like Radiohead, but everything that's been released since 'Kid A' sounds just like 'Kid A' outtakes.

Sent by Bryant | 7:50 PM | 12-4-2007

Radiohead is one of my favorite bands, but I do have to say that I'm disappointed with In Rainbows. Most of their work is, of course, melancholy and introspective but at the same time is engaging and has an element of warmth to it somehow. But so far to me this album is just seems melancholy in a boring way - and like you said, blank and cold.

Sent by Tim | 8:17 PM | 12-4-2007

I feel the same way. I never have really got into Radiohead even though i'm "supposed" to. They just never struck a chord inside me. They're a great band, & there is certainly much more worse you could be into, but for whatever the reason, they have never done it for me. I think it's a generational thing sometimes. Though all music is derivative in some form, I think with certain bands, (at least with me) I feel that I've heard another band that came before that did it better. and I hold that band closer to me. It's selfish I guess, but nonetheless my choice. On the other hand, I do appreciate a newer band that do, do it right.

Sent by edgar paras | 8:21 PM | 12-4-2007

I think "How to Disappear Completely" from Kid A & "How I Made My Millions" from No Surprises CD1 (a B-side) are 2 of the saddest songs I've ever heard.

Sent by supermar | 8:39 PM | 12-4-2007

I never dug it either, too skinny and pale for my tastes. Maybe if Creep hadn't been such an inescapable smash hit I would have given them a real listen. But yeah, I know exactly what you mean. It's like the train left the station, and I wasn't on it. Now they just seem too established to begin listening to.

Sent by Bloodyserb | 8:43 PM | 12-4-2007

i think the question is not radiohead but why do you need to listen to the music in your life. where it gets you and what are the reasons you want to be there.

so, the first song of the web release, 15 step, with all of those kids shouts and cymbals following "you used to be alright..", is just perfect for me to walk by the sad and cold buildings in moscow.

the only other in-rainbows-song i put on repeat is "videotape". it reminds me of the "good things" for some reason. when you wrote a song this is the end of it, but if you are listening to one, then it's just a start. it's like downloading some bright and powerful plug-in while listening to both (videotape) and (good things). this time it'll be alright. let's break this wall first.

Sent by bronepoezd | 8:59 PM | 12-4-2007

Radiohead happens to be one of those life-changing bands I discovered when I was thirteen years-old. They're the ones that initiated my becoming a serious music fan. I might have not heard of Sleater-Kinney if Radiohead hadn't turned me onto music in the first place, so I owe them much thanks.

Sent by Andy C | 9:15 PM | 12-4-2007

"That being said, I like Radiohead, but everything that's been released since 'Kid A' sounds just like 'Kid A' outtakes."

I kinda sorta agree with this. Maybe it's just because Kid A was the first Radiohead album I listenend too. There's a song on In Rainbows that begins just like something off of Kid A. But yeah, Radiohead is probably one of my favorite bands.

You don't strike me (based on limited info) as someone who would like Radiohead anyway. A lot of their stuff is kind of sad and cold (ie: "How to Disappear Completely" which I find beautiful) and I was introduced to them at the right point in life (high school=angst)to "get" it, I think.

Radiohead's music is that type of music that seems to translate atmospheres, environments, feelings, and moods into sounds that seep into your brain to infuse you with some visceral emotion. An emotion akin to what you may feel in a certain setting, with a certain someone.

Maybe patience is what is needed? Maybe play them as background noise for a bit? Or maybe don't try so hard as others have been saying?

Sent by Jaime | 9:37 PM | 12-4-2007

It makes me mad that Radiohead gets constantly praised for releasing their album for any cost (including free, if you so choose). Yes, that's awesome. But Kristin Hersh (among many other artists) has been doing this for decades.

Unlike Radiohead, however, Kristin Hersh did not wait until she was filthy rich to give away her music for free. She has been doing it since the beginning.

I love Radiohead, and seeing them live ($300 a ticket.) was akin to a religious experience. But i can understand not adoring them. I just don't like that they get all the credit for starting some sort of new musical revolution when other artists have been doing it for much longer.

Sent by Carla K. | 10:06 PM | 12-4-2007

Perhaps its a band that is best experienced live. That is the only time I really enjoyed them. I don't understand this fear we all have for saying Radiohead is not for me. The reaction is always classic. As Kathy Griffin would say "the gay gasp".

Sent by Luis | 10:08 PM | 12-4-2007

It doesn't seem like there a lot of Radiohead defenders so far, so I'll give it a try:
In Rainbows is actually the most (lyrically/thematically) accessible album they've ever made. Beneath the obvious complexity of the music lies a rocking jazz album, and beneath Thom Yorke's often circuitous lyrics are the most personal songs he's ever released.
In Rainbows isn't about the collapse of Western civilization or complete and total alienation or our terrifying relationship with technology (all three of which, among others, make OK Computer and Kid A such love/hate albums); it's about love and lust and finding happiness and all of the stuff music normally tries to be about.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I just can't see IR as cold or distant or impenetrable. It's more like a fun puzzle to solve... But if that isn't what you want from a rock album, then you aren't going to like it and no harm no foul.

Sent by andrew | 10:25 PM | 12-4-2007

radiohead are one of my favourite bands, but i don't think there's anything wrong with someone not liking them. i can't really tell you how to like radiohead. if you really give them (or any band for that matter) a chance (which it sounds like you have) and still don't like them, should that really be considered a negative reflection on the listener or the band?

Sent by sandy | 10:39 PM | 12-4-2007

I think they're crap. I feel ennui. I feel self-loathing. I feel awful. I feel melancholy. All that in some amount of equal, small parts each day. (I also feel OK, most of the time and happy, yeah.) I don't need a sonic version of a bad therapy session. I also don't think Radiohead are redefining the business of music, unless that means having buckets of money and a webcam and some PR wonks who will help convince fans that this digital release of their album isn't just a way to make money off of an advance copy. I could forgive a lot of this if it didn't seem like their music was created by people who resent music. I WANT TO ROCK.

Sent by frank | 10:49 PM | 12-4-2007

While I am not totally convinced by the power of In Rainbows just yet, I have to say that Kid A did exactly what you are looking for--stabbed me in the heart--but, it took a few listens. Different strokes for different folks, ya? I can't read Proust because, for whatever reason (long and boring?) it's just not doing anything for me, but that isn't to say that at some point in my life it won't be quite meaningful. Perhaps you're just not ready for Radiohead. Maybe you never will be.

Alternative hypothesis--hype kills. Radiohead's been the "savior of rock" since The Bends, and how could they possibly live up to that? I felt the same way when the Arcade Fire's "Funeral" came out, everyone and their (virtual?) dog touted it as the second coming of a musical Jesus. But when I finally heard it, it did absolutely nothing for me. I could see why others were so enthralled, as these were quite beautiful songs, but for me, nothing. I don't expect that will change (didn't with Neon Bible anyways...). To paraphrase Wayne's World, if you walk up to Radiohead and hurl, it was never meant to be.

Sent by Leaves | 11:09 PM | 12-4-2007

Honestly, you're not the first person I've met who doesn't 'get' Radiohead. It seems to me that they're a band that you had to listen to in high school in their heyday (The Bends/OK Computer) to be into. Their fanbase is getting older because of this too, I think. Anyway, I can relate to how you feel; if I hear another person say how much they love the new Liars album, I'm going to shoot myself.


Sent by Ollie | 11:49 PM | 12-4-2007

I can see why you don't like Radiohead. Logically, I don't like Radiohead either... no matter how much I push I kind of feel like their music just pulls away right before the most integral part, or something. But I'm attached to their music because I listened to it at a turning point in my life. And even though I don't get as much out of it as I used to, I still listen to everything they put out.

That's my reasoning. Maybe most Radiohead fans are very emotionally attached to the music, and you just never formed that bond to the band?

Sent by stephanie | 12:20 AM | 12-5-2007

15 step off "In Rainbows" is pretty much my favorite song in the universe right now.


But I don't like everything that they do. I'm not even sure how much I like the album. But I heart this song. It makes me really happy. I'm listening to it right now. Thanks for putting Radiohead on my brain, and now I'm happier b/c I'm listening to this song.

Sent by Claudette | 12:33 AM | 12-5-2007

Have you listened to anything from "Com Lag: 2+2=5?" It's the Japanese import EP of remixes and unreleased tracks they put out after "Hail To the Thief." It's my favorite Radiohead album ever. Look up "Gagging Order." That's reason enough to love Radiohead.

Sent by Nick L. | 12:43 AM | 12-5-2007

Radiohead music doesn't rock, it just exists.

I like a good challenging, thought-provoking band too, but their stuff doesn't go anywhere.

Sent by JJ Hellgate | 12:55 AM | 12-5-2007

there's plenty of music left in your life... don't waste time trying to force a square peg into a radiohole yo

Sent by joe | 12:58 AM | 12-5-2007

sorry can't provide that.

everytime news surfaces about radiohead about to release another lp, I instantly tune out. I havn't cared since ok computer, which isn't the best album of the 90's. That honor belongs to My Bloody Valentine's Loveless.

Sorry had to air grievences in the festivus tradition.

There's no need to lighten up; you'll have sounds you'll like and some you won't.

Sent by Devin(shire) | 1:30 AM | 12-5-2007

I don't see the need to put Radiohead on a pedestal or anything else for that matter. The media does that and it screws the channel between the world and our senses. I miss the world not being like that. The reasons Kid A is such an amazing album to me, is that is focuses itself on itself. It creates a world -subjectively speaking, it's serene and tactile. Yorke's vocals are just another textural quality for me. In Rainbows is re-invigorating. It meanders steadily. It's at once upbeat, groovy, pensive and loose.

Sent by pranay reddy | 1:59 AM | 12-5-2007

Oh C'mon Carrie... "why I should lighten up and let them in." No need to open up, and absorb them if you just can't do so naturally with no hesitations whatsoever. Though I know I don't even need to tell you that at all. There are a lot of great points listed thus far from Radiohead-heads, and the not-so-impressed Radiobends. If you're not drawn to the magnetic pull, then don't just sit there waiting for an eclipse to stir the senses. I've never been drawn to them for what it's worth. However, many people I know personally are. I can appreciate the occasional atmospheric, transcendental song to tickle my temporal lobe in just the right manner where I'll listen for a bit, maybe even a few songs if someone I know is playing them. To get some sort of pleasure from one, or two of their songs in which to allow the rush of sensations to form, and play out from their carefully thought out, pieced together, intertwined, and layered sonic landscapes. Thom Yorke's vocals are the added element of the human presence. The sole experience or connection that brings the listener back into the mix reminding them of the humanistic aspect to the recording. The related aspect of a voice, something with which almost everybody has, and the emotions that are connected to that voice. It is unique in it's character, and sound while becoming as close as it can to an instrument itself at times.

That said, obviously I don't go out of my way to listen to them. I do admire their vision, and integrity. Their attempts to do as they please, and should their fan base enjoy it too then all the more better. But that's something I don't get about the a typical fan for any group. They'll follow, and follow, and when the artist(s) decides to do something different for their own personal purposes, or very growth, and if that ends up not sitting well with the "fan(s)" then they betch and moan, as if they 'own' some sort of stock within the group. All the while completely ignoring the very people who make up the work, the effort, the art. That is something that I've noticed quite a bit in the past few years, and witnessed across many different genres as well. Are they really even a 'fan' if they can't allow the very people they say they enjoy to get up, and do their thing because it's what THEY enjoy doing, making, and playing. Radiohead's main fan base seems fairly consistent as a whole no matter what they chose to do. Plus, the numbers are large enough in order for a few to slough off should they not like what they're doing at any said moment.

But I suppose I don't "get them" like the usual listener does. Oishish! I did it again. Just a stream of thought, no intentional dissertations here.

Sent by |3rian | 2:01 AM | 12-5-2007

Carrie, it's interesting that you attribute this to some kind of failure within yourself. I don't think that's it. There are a lot of declared classics in rock music, but it's still a relatively young medium, and certainly the most volatile. Until there are a few hundred years behind it, we won't really know who its godheads are.

Take "Sgt. Pepper" for example. Twenty years ago it was considered the greatest album of all time, and certainly the Beatles' high point. But times have changed -- perhaps as a result of its being idolized, "Sgt. Pepper," compared to other Beatles albums, has been more devalued in years since. Now I regularly see "Revolver" being named as their best album. Did "Sgt. Pepper" start sucking to just the right amount of pro critics over those few years, or what?

The point is, it's a fluid art form. Rock music is based heavily on self-definition, but some bands don't even know who they are for a few years. Maybe who you are was more or less dictated by the contents of "OK Computer," or maybe not.

There is no really objective way to classify albums' places in time, because the art of rock music (and jazz, and blues, and more) changes from listener to listener. I think Radiohead's done some brilliant work, but I don't get the constant stream of hosannahs behind In Rainbows either. It's a solid Radiohead album. By now you know they're going to be consistent -- unless they have a secret Metal Machine Music type thing in the works -- and probably won't ever release a stinker. Does it transcend? That's up to you.

Instead of blaming yourself for not "getting" Radiohead's new album, if you're inclined, you should write about how it falls short for you personally. Or better yet, write about something that does rouse your passion. 'Cause like I said, it's still a new art form. We all have lots of time to figure it out. Or at least dance like crazy.

Sent by Paul Pearson | 3:49 AM | 12-5-2007

I would tend to agree with stephanie. the thing with radiohead, I think, is that it needs to sort of soundtrack a very important moment in your life... they're very good at that. the first time I listened to kid a all the way through was when I was a scared 18 year old on a train out of small town north dakota on my way to an apartment in seattle... by myself. I couldn't sleep, so I put on kid a because the opening keys are very relaxing, and it knocked me out cold and gave me some of the most vivid dreams I've ever had.

since then, everytime I've really digested an album by them I've been going through some sort of big event. that's why I loved in rainbows, and that's why I love radiohead. but it certainly doesn't surprise me when someone says they don't care for it.

Sent by tactful cactus | 3:52 AM | 12-5-2007

I have to say that it took me a while to come around to really loving Radiohead. I always heard their songs, but for a long time I never connected. I agree that a good chunk of their work is a bit cold and almost unfeeling and I won't say I love it all equally. But there are so many songs that are accessible and that do have a stab-you-in-heart kind of emotion to them. The Bends is probably where I formed my initial emotional attachment, those guitar-driven songs where you can clearly hear Thom Yorke's voice are beautiful and really are full of emotion.
In my opinion, In Rainbows is among Radiohead's best work. It stabbed me in the heart quicker and more thoroughly than any prior Radiohead album. And it's just so much fun to listen to.

Sent by Kim | 4:18 AM | 12-5-2007

I, too, never got the appeal of Radiohead. Their music comes across as cold and inaccessible. I often wonder what it is I'm missing or not getting.

Sent by Nools | 6:09 AM | 12-5-2007

In your last post, you mentioned that you'd "shifted from collecting to compiling." That being the case, I suggest giving the song "reckoner" another try...

Sent by boo | 8:14 AM | 12-5-2007

personally, carrie, i'm with you. i have no fewer than four radiohead cd's, all of which i've diligently listened to many times, trying to really get into them.

Sent by robert | 8:51 AM | 12-5-2007

Carrie? Are you saying that you didn't like White Noise? Where are the legions of Delillo fans who will affix your visage to a dartboard?

I answered this question earlier but I don't blame you for not having read the ins and outs of each comment. I do like DeLillo. I just don't have any desire to hear the musical equivalent of "White Noise". -C

Sent by David | 8:57 AM | 12-5-2007

Well, it's not for everyone. I think their output since Kid A has been the musical equivalent of Antonioni films, which I'm not quite sure is a good thing for music to be (as it has the disadvantage of not having images to fall back on). The Bends and OK Computer are still two of my favorite albums of the last 20 years, though.

Sent by norbizness | 9:23 AM | 12-5-2007

Are you familiar with the English Patient episode of Seinfeld? Because that's what I immediately thought of when I read this blog entry.

All that being said, I don't have a strong opinion either way about Radiohead. But I do have my own Radiohead(s). There have been certain bands which I have spent more time trying to like because I felt like I should. Conversely, there have been bands I???ve shunned who I probably would like but I've felt like I shouldn???t. I try to be open-minded but sometimes I get lazy and just don???t have the time.

Thanks Carla K. for bringing up Kristin Hersh. I was somewhat aghast at all the attention Radiohead received when yes, she???s been doing it for awhile and recently launched her CASH Music Project with alot less fanfare.

Sent by East Coast Terry | 9:47 AM | 12-5-2007

What's stabbed me in the heart?
-The first "Everything" in Everything In It's Right Place (the first Radiohead song I ever listened to, I was sold within 20 seconds)
-The way the guitar slices through the middle of the slow part of Paranoid Android, transforming it into an entirely different song in the space of a half-second.
-The key change in No Surprises.
-The hand claps in We Suck Young Blood
-The children shouting "Yeah" in 15 Steps.

Those all do it for me. If they don't do it for you, then that's fine. Nobody's required to like Radiohead.

Sent by OhioBoy | 10:01 AM | 12-5-2007

I think I share your feelings for this band. Nothing about their music has ever struck me as particularly groundbreaking or enlightening, and truthfully I think Thom Yorke has become a parody of himself.

Sent by beth | 10:03 AM | 12-5-2007

*sigh* I just can't understand the draw of Radiohead myself. I went on a Tori Amos bender a few years ago and ever since then, I've vowed not to listen to music that saps me of my will to be cheerful. Don't get me wrong, I like a good "slow jam" as much as the next gal, I just can't allow myself to set foot on this slippery slope. Radiohead, for me, gets put on the "Don't listen to this, for you value your mental stability" list. For this, I find myself at a loss for words or having to offer a humble "explanation" for myself when conversations invariably turns to Radiohead. I don't know in how how many pairs of eyes I have seen my estimation slip when I reveal my "secret".

To touch on another, similar topic, I am an ardent Bjork fan. This is not something that I can usually get people to see eye to eye with me on and I don't ever attempt to get anyone to see it my way. I know there are plenty of people who like Bjork (otherwise she wouldn't sell out Radio City Music Hall in a minute with $80 a pop tickets) but to most people, her music is like racket. I know what you're saying about "music that takes a good 20 listens to get". Typically when Bjork releases and album, I buy it and hang onto it for approximately five years before I can listen to it. For example, I just got into "Vespertine" last year. This year I'll listen to "Medulla", maybe next year or two years after that, I'll listen to "Volta". We'll see.

Sent by Coleen | 10:17 AM | 12-5-2007

I feel like Thom Yorke's melodies peaked with The Bends and OK Computer. Since then, the music has been interesting, but the melodies not so much. The rock songs with hooks (There, There & 2+2=5, for instance) stand out against everything else.

Sent by Sebastian Quartermain | 10:19 AM | 12-5-2007

I think "In Rainbows" sounds like Junior Murvin fronting American Analog Set.

Sent by matt | 10:49 AM | 12-5-2007

Yeah but there's an anesthetized sort of grace at the center of most of a lot of their songs-- a real person in the middle of all that boredom, worry, and sexlessness. And I think the music can actually emote even more warmly for burying that almost beyond recovery.

Or if that ain't makin' the sale-- then how about that really sweet, chunky, riff in 'Bodysnatchers.' Some pretty serious swagger goin' on there.

Sent by Chris | 10:57 AM | 12-5-2007

If Bobby McFerrin went to the Holocaust Museum and recorded an album immediately afterward, it would probably sound a lot like Radiohead.

There would be something unearned and incongruous about such an album, and that's how I feel about Radiohead too.

Sent by lampwicke | 11:21 AM | 12-5-2007

S'okay! I personally am unable to enjoy the Arcade Fire. I find the sound muddy and the melodies disjointed. I'm sure we could all name a musician or band whose popularity completely bewilders.

I like Radiohead. Perhaps their music demands some masochistic tendencies from the fans. Put someone in front of a bleak desert landscape in Utah and s/he might complain of boredom. Another person might disagree however. Similarly, Radiohead's distant austerity can count as either a star or black mark in a music lover's book.

I like Radiohead for the following reasons:
- the music always seems to be more than sum of its parts
- sonically, the music constructs a landscape that is a soundtrack to my own world

As for the blankness you speak of, I couldn't disagree more. I think Radiohead consistently delivers a more powerful emotional wallop than any other band today. If I could suggest a iTunes playlist, it would be (off the top of my head):
Nice Dream
Black Star
Let Down
No Surprises

Someone once wrote that to enjoy Elliott Smith you need to have the stomach for confessional songwriting, meaning if you're not in the mood for self-pity or introspection then don't bother. I think the same could be said for Radiohead.

Sent by Hoainam | 12:13 PM | 12-5-2007

I think there is something uplifting in a an album that starts with a song that states ???Everyone is broken??? and then ends with a final track where the last words sung are, ???Immerse your soul in love???. That???s pretty amazing. I loved The Bends. I don???t think Radiohead are flawless, I haven???t loved any of their other albums as much. I do like them though.

I do commend them for trying something new with the release of ???In Rainbows???, and yes Kristin Hersh was doing this before and she is no millionaire. Off topic, but wouldn???t a Radiohead / Kristin Hersh collaboration be amazing?

Sent by Miki | 12:32 PM | 12-5-2007

Oh, I don't know, I think Mao II could make a decent musical. Regardless, someone should do something musical with Moonies.

Sent by Elizabeth | 12:39 PM | 12-5-2007

agree w/ setya, listen to ok computer with big headphones for yr anti-dissertation. on the other hand, when i saw thom et al. at coachella a few yrs back, most exciting thing of their set was kim deal jumping on to shout "see everyone at the kraftwerk tent after radiohead!"

i fell asleep under the stars thinking i really should appreciate his whine, their blackness, and just slept.

Sent by cbtoot | 12:41 PM | 12-5-2007

Silly rock critic Mark Prindle once summed up Radiohead with the line:

"The kids love it when you pretend you're sad."

Then they read that and started pretending they were paranoid and anxious instead.

Sent by Mr. Noah | 12:43 PM | 12-5-2007

I wish someone could write out in a few words (not a phD dissertation, not a book) why Radiohead should stab me in the heart

They have: Radiohead, or The Philosophy of Pop.

Sent by Ron Mashate | 12:57 PM | 12-5-2007

re: Junior Murvin/AmAnSet comparison:
You are brilliant.

Sent by Georgina | 1:08 PM | 12-5-2007

Well, being eighty-comments in, I can't add a whole lot here, but my take:

- Yes, Radiohead (post-Bends) write mostly "grower" songs. I think Kid A was the hardest one for me to get into, but it stands up really well now.

- Arcade Fire is my Radiohead, I fear. I liked the first couple of songs I heard off of Funeral, bought the album, thought it was good, not great -- I thought they would become something better. I bought Neon Bible within a month of its release. I think I listed to it twice and never touched it again.
- There are tons of bands/musicians I am supposed to like that I never embraced -- a topic that was talked about on the All Songs Considered blog a couple of weeks back. Some include Lou Reed, Bob Dylan (I know-it's horrible), The Jam, and the Sex Pistols (I'm more of a Buzzcocks guy), to name a few. Bands I'm supposed to love but actually only like a few songs: The Fall, Wire, and the White Stripes come to mind.

So basically I think most of this discussion comes down to this: you likes what you likes. Intellectualizing it rarely makes a difference. In my case the only band I had to "learn" to like was Sonic Youth, and admittedly that one stuck. But that's definitely the exception, not the rule.

Sent by Joel | 1:48 PM | 12-5-2007

I got into Radiohead after listening to OK Computer when I was a freshmean in college, and have been a fan ever since. I understand how they may sound cold and distant to some, but for me, I almost always get this overwhelming connection to their music. Maybe I'm just a sucker for sad songs, who knows? But they did change the way I experience music. They're THAT band for me, so to speak, and thank god for that, or else I wouldn't have discovered all these other amazing bands.

And I agree with the other posters...I don't think it's necessary to "get" Radiohead. I don't "get" Arcade Fire, but I just don't think they're my cup of tea (nice to know I'm not alone). We all have different tastes, so it's not really a big deal.

Sent by w.k. | 2:41 PM | 12-5-2007

I like Radiohead because they are talented musicians. I like the guitars, I like Phil's drumming. I really like Thom's voice.

I can relate to Thom's lyrics. Sometimes I feel alienated, alone, sort of lost in my journey. Thom sings about issues and experiences that resonate with me. I also like the politically charged theme of an album like "Hail to The Thief." The song "The Gloaming" from that album is perfect to play while watching FOX News on mute. Even though it seems depressing it is still comforting to feel like you're not alone, that someone seems to be as paranoid as you.

To me, the music is beautiful in its cold, sonic lushness. That's how I hear it. You can't make yourself hear that.

Sent by Eagle Eye Smith | 2:48 PM | 12-5-2007

I'm not sure I can (or want to) convince anyone who doesn't already want to like Radiohead, but I saw them live in 2003 - before I knew their works well - and absolutely fell in love. If you can score tickets the next time they tour, you might just love it too.

Sent by Alison | 3:06 PM | 12-5-2007

Greg, to clarify, I'd say that it's $80 bucks because it's an import. Check the other prices for vinyl Radiohead albums and you'll see.

Next, I'd like to say that Radiohead is a great band! They are probably one of the best 2 or 3 live bands around. I agree that their music could be hard to approach, but that's what makes it so good. BTW, It took me a bit to realize that The Hot Rock is one of the best breakup albums of all time.

Radiohead should stab you in the heart because it's the complete package. It's not just hooks and melodies, it's their approach to making each song a complete piece of art. Like most music, there's a bit of a wank factor to it, but as a whole I haven't heard too much better from a band who's name doesn't start with THE (Beatles, Kinks, VU,Rolling Stones, etc..)

Sent by A | 3:11 PM | 12-5-2007

I like Radiohead a lot, but cannot now watch a video or even look at pictures of them without thinking of a comment made by music critic Mike Usinger: Thom Yorke looks exactly like the Martin Short character Jackie Rogers Junior.

Sent by GC | 4:02 PM | 12-5-2007

I think it's really exhilarating when people "come out" like this. The first step is admitting it. I'll join you.

I cannot get into the White Stripes to save my soul. I thought they were a charming if forgettable novelty at first sight. I was bewildered to find them later made of Legos on Mtv and "re-inventing rock" all over the pages of Rolling Stone. I think it's great that they try and that they actually care about music, but I'd really rather not be shamed into using words like "intense", "visceral", or "innovative" to describe them just because they are the only band on mainstream modern rock stations that doesn't wear masks or play Nu Metal. Groundbreaking. Sorry, I just don't get it.

Anyway, getting back to your coming out party, I agree with you. Radiohead has always bored me to tears. Luckily, I was able to pass my bored tears off as a show of "heartened reverence" that devotees of the band almost demand of anyone with functioning ear membranes. If I can forget that I'm listening to a certain band's music, if I'm not almost crashing my car because I'm trying to wrap my head around what their lead vocalist just did with their voice, if anyone can describe their latest album as "real chill" or "atmospheric", then it's safe to say they're pretty boring. That's fine for some people.

I like bands that grab me by the throat and keep me guessing. As "blasphemous" as this might be to some, I must admit that whenever I listen to Radiohead, I am immediately craving Muse or Mars Volta. Sure, their fans are just as ravenous, but at least those bands make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

I also can't stand Joanna Newsome and I think the new Salt n Pepa reunion reality show is pure genius, so what do I know?

Sent by Thomas Naughton | 4:45 PM | 12-5-2007

A funny side note, upon reading the comments people talk about other bands overhyped bands with the same amount of gusto as an opposition to Radiohead. Such as Arcade Fire and Tori Amos, both groups with fans that really go overboard.

It never continues to surprise me how much music is so personal.

Sent by K-Ray-z | 4:53 PM | 12-5-2007

Thanks for this post, Carrie.

I've tried so hard to get into Radiohead over the years and nothing has worked. I respect them; I just can't enjoy the music.

To me, music should make you feel something, anything. But when I listen to Radiohead, I feel nothing at all.

I used to feel guilty about that, but not quite so much anymore. It's kind of like high school -- you think *everybody* is drinking or getting high, so you're a loser if you don't, too.
Everyone has this idea that *everybody* is into Radiohead, so you're obviously a loser if you're not constantly listening to them.
But, as we've all learned, not *everybody* in high school was getting drunk or high, and not *everybody* is listening to Radiohead, either.

Sent by sheena | 5:14 PM | 12-5-2007

Until earlier this year I had resisted listening to Radiohead because I didn't like the aura of superiority any given fan of theirs would take on when discussing them. I also expected that I would find them affectless and boring. But after getting a free copy of Thom Yorke's solo album at work, I tried listening to OK Computer and then In Rainbows, and I'm a fan. A song like Reckoner--that is incredibly moving and emotional, and yes, it stabs me in the heart. I felt the same way about it as when I first heard SK's Night Light.

Still haven't heard "The Bends" or "Kid A" yet, though.

Sent by Mike | 6:33 PM | 12-5-2007

It's hard for me to understand how any true rock fan could not feel moved by Paranoid Android. The performance of it I saw in 2001 on the Kid A tour was the most transcendent experience I've ever had at a rock concert.

But that's just me.

Sent by Pat | 8:04 PM | 12-5-2007

"Eerie, cold, foreboding"? That's KID A (which I love), but it's not IN RAINBOWS.

IR is, like someone already said, "earthy and physical". The melodies are gorgeous and direct. It's downright romantic.

I think the problem, Carie, is that you didn't actually hear the new record. You mistakenly downloaded a copy of HAIL TO THE THIEF instead.

Sent by Sister Jack | 9:24 PM | 12-5-2007

Funny, as I happened to be listening to In Rainbows while reading this post. I have an ambivalent relationship with Radiohead; I like them, but I found it was work, and I like music to grab me by the throat immediately. What initially led me to listen to them more carefully was Thom Yorke's duet with PJ Harvey, This Mess We're In, which was so emotionally raw, and not at all like the cold, dispassionate sound I normally associate with them. When his falsetto hits that emotional range, as he does on the last track on In Rainbows, I find it so achingly beautiful as to be worth the initial effort. More often they veer too far into AOR territory for my taste, and I might as well be at a laser Floyd show.

Sent by Pamela Goldsteen | 9:56 PM | 12-5-2007

wow a bunch of radiohead haters. i'm actually surprised given what i'd have guessed about the overlap of npr listeners and this blog readers. it's ok, not judging, just surprised.

briefly how i access: the not thinking suggestion is key for me. the words generally tend to fall back a ways. initially, it's a tone, a combination of tones, actually, that shouldn't sound good together, do maybe sound whiny, but then run together gloriously as i listen to the album (!) over and over. i guess it's sort of like those pointillism 3-d nonsense that you have to look at kind of askew and for a while and there's the "pop." the words come back in later.

not so brief nor effusive, but that's my tip.

oh you ask for why: um, because, whatever.

Sent by jk | 12:25 AM | 12-6-2007

I like both Arcade Fire and the White Stripes, and I also thought the PJ Harvey/Thom Yorke duet on "Stories" was really good.

I don't get Radiohead at all. But there's a lot of this "post-" stuff I don't get.... it doesn't mean they suck, although over the years my musical tastes/opinions have proved to be pretty good, if I do say so myself (and I just did.)

Sent by bud | 10:08 AM | 12-6-2007

I'd prefer to try to convince you to listen to Jandek...but you probably already do.

Sent by Richard Church | 10:58 AM | 12-6-2007

There's no accounting for taste.

Why you have to let that make it your biggest disappointment of 2007, though? that's what I don't understand.

Sent by Seth Meyer | 11:55 AM | 12-6-2007

You didn't really expect that someone would be able to do this for you, did you? I mean, maybe in your dreams but I'm thinking your request is impossible to fulfill. And if someone really can fulfill that request, I'm thinking you might want to keep that person close at hand. Or maybe as far away as possible. If someone can present a convincing case as to why something should stab me in the heart, I'm thinking they might end up having a little too much power in my life!

Regardless, good device to get an interesting dialog going.

What I like and do not is some unknowable combination of chemistry, the associative powers of the music, and timing. And sure some other things are mixed in with that brew. While it is great to share enthusiasms with friends and like minded souls but essentially how I connect with the music I love is entirely private. Even if we share the same favorite band or song you're not likely going to "get it" the same way I do.

I remember when I was a kid (mid-late 70's) my public library had a great little vinyl section. I had read about this guy named Nick Drake and lo and behold the library had Bryter Later. I borrowed it and that thing just immediately made sense to me (sullen teen living in suburban NY). I borrowed it regularly until finally finding a copy to buy. I also remember around the same time taking out Big Star's Radio City, listening to it... ho-hum... what's the big deal, returned it and that was that. What the hell was wrong with me? Not that many years after I "got it" - how I got in there, I'm not really sure. Some guesses... maybe finding (and loving) the Chris Bell 45 "I am the Cosmos" or the release of Big Star's 3rd, or maybe it was the Replacements who lead me back to being open to Big Star. I dunno but I can't imagine not having those 1st 2 Big Star records as part of my musical memory.

So, who knows, 10 years from now (maybe when all the noise dies down?) you'll somehow end up hearing some Radiohead and it will all make sense and you'll love it.

Sent by -pgc. | 1:08 PM | 12-6-2007

I don't think you need to be stabbed in the heart. Some people don't like Radiohead. My friends girlfriend loves alternative/rock/progressive music and he thought she would like Radiohead. He let her listen to all the albums from Pablo Honey to In Rainbows over the course of 3 weeks and she never got into it. Maybe she didn't relate to the lyrics or she doesn't like Thom's voice. Who knows. I had a friend once tell me he couldn't stand Neil Young because of his voice and I about lost it. I love Neil Young's music. Anyways, just because you can't get into Radiohead does not mean you should lighten up. I think "In Rainbows" is phenomenal. Nothing like anything they have ever done. Completely different then the angry, politically charged "Hail To The Theif." But, that is my opinion. I don't like Nickelback. I would never buy one of their albums. But if someone can connect to the lyrics/music Nickelback offers then more power to them.

Sent by AndrewJK | 2:17 PM | 12-6-2007

I will say that Radiohead now doesn't really do it for me the way they did when I was a bit younger (back catalogue included), but that is more just my own tastes changing; I think that they are still quite an amazing band.

As to your concern Carrie, I would suggest seeing them live. In my experience their show is a real cerebellum-melter, and what initially (and fanatically) won me over. Once you see them as human beings playing like they mean it and having fun doing it, a bit of the ice starts to melt away...

Sent by Chris | 2:53 PM | 12-6-2007

Ive never understood them either?
Its just one of those things...

Ive never really "gotten into" Pink Floyd as well... Ive tried... Its just... something must get lost in the airwaves as it travels from ear to brain???

Someday it might click...

It took me forever to get into Led Zeppelin actually? I just couldnt listen to Robert Plants voice for more than a few songs at a time... But now I can play them all day?

Just one of those mysteries of life I suppose.

Sent by Kramer | 3:28 PM | 12-6-2007

I agree with most of the comments posted here. Sometimes it takes a lot of listens to "figure out" what a band is doing.

Fugazi was that way for me. I never understood them until I saw them on the End Hits tour in Seattle. Seeing them live made me understand their music.

It was at that show that I saw you play for the first time. I was blown away by the three women on stage who I thought went by the name of "The Hot Rocks".

Have you seen Radiohead live? Sometimes that is what it takes.

Sent by Shannon | 3:52 PM | 12-6-2007

Radiohead has always been like Pink Floyd to me, no matter how much Im told how amazing they are, it just never clicks for me. Kid A has been the closes I have come to enjoying an album of theirs.

Sent by Kyle | 6:42 AM | 12-7-2007

In my opinion (that is if you care)...
I think the Radiohead album is a reflection of Radiohead, as a band, hitting a wall of their musical creativity. They are all GREAT and CREATIVE musicians. However, I think as a whole, they need to call it quits before they overdo what they have. Don't get me wrong, I don't think they should break up. They have been phenomenal. The album has the Radiohead feel, and is great as Radiohead is, but its nothing spectacularly new. It didn't grow like Radiohead has through the years. Its a sad thought in my eyes, but that's what I think.
Take it as it is or leave it.

And don't hate me too much, please..

I do care, that's why I read the comments. And I am always relieved when there are opinions different from my own. Otherwise blog would be incredibly boring. -CB

Sent by Jessica H | 9:23 AM | 12-7-2007

This is a great quote (see below) and reason to love all music. As a fan of band such as the Residents among all the mainstream music I'm with you all the way. Never heard anything by Radiohead and if I walked into a store and they were on I wouldn't know of them. Maybe since you are in the music industry you feel the need to catch up to this band, but for me as a music fan (of all music), there were many more different bands and music I wanted to explore and experience before Radiohead, I guess if they were really that good I'd know of them and appreciate them but right now they are not nor have yet been on my radar screen, there is just so much music to explore, which is great! So what what you don't like Radiohead, you probably like a dozen other bands Radiohead has never heard of.

"Second, I love complexity: music that hurts your head as much as it does your heart, takes twenty listens to make sense of, and that stretches into irregular beauty as much as it coheres to its more traditional forms."

Sent by rescueblues | 9:46 AM | 12-7-2007

What draws me to certian albums is both an emotional and intellectual response. I appreciate a song sometimes by how I empathize with musical tone but also sometime the intellectual thrill of discovery of a new 'sound' and trying to figure out what makes it so unique. For me alot of the draw of radiohead in the past has been the latter with the 'complexity' that you refered to striking me in new ways that I have not experienced. Although, I must admit that the last song in their latest offering fulfills both critera for me.

Sent by Joel K. | 1:16 PM | 12-7-2007

I AGREE Carrie! All the way back to Pablo Honey, I just have not been able to get it the way so many others seem to. Thanks for voicing how I've felt for a long time! (I do like "Bodysnatchers" though)

Sent by Marty | 3:29 PM | 12-7-2007

How dare you not ilke Radiohead! Next time I see you I'm going to punch you in your Radiohead disliking face : P

Sent by Punching Faces For Jesus (and Radiohead) | 3:50 PM | 12-7-2007

Initial advice: Don't see them live. You'll spend hundreds of dollars to see a band you don't like in hopes that the experience will make you like them. That's just stupid. You won't find anything revelatory in their live show; live shows are elucidations/interpretations of what's already on wax (for the most part). If anything, listening to their studio cuts after having seen them live will only remind you that you saw them live. In my opinion, the most affective music is of the moment, by which I mean the music will affect you in different ways at different times, but at least will always affect you. And it seems that Radiohead does affect you...with a sense of creeping dread and dislike. My ultimate advice: Give up; it ain't gonna happen. And that's fine. Perhaps your problem--as I see it, based on what little I gleaned from this post--is that you think you "should" like them. Why do you think that? I should like Bob Dylan, canonically speaking, but I really don't.

Sent by Brian | 4:50 PM | 12-7-2007

i'm actually with you... I used to like them a lot more. But, for the most part, I think they're way overrated and Thom's solo effort actually pissed me off. Don't be ashamed you don't like Radiohead!

Sent by Janet | 7:49 PM | 12-7-2007

Yo I actually have a comment about your All Songs Considered appraisal of Panda Bear... Um, what do you mean that solo projects tend to be intimate acoustic work? That hasn't been my experience. (To reference Radiohead, the subject of this blog entry, look at Yorke's solo album -- very electronic, not very intimate in the acoustic-self-exposure sense that I think you're going for)... And further more, what's up with suggesting that more artists should pursue Beach Boys-style stadium anthems? Did the Shins suddenly stop existing? Didn't they already mine that pretty heavily? I love Panda Bear's album, but the sun-drenched Beach Boys nostalgia is already all over the place. It's hardly a unique idea, and do we need to encourage more copying and genre-riffing? What makes Panda Bear interesting is the way he approaches song writing, which is unique in a very basic way... it's not his jangly 1960s production. I would give you advice on both his album and In Rainbows -- listen more carefully and consider what the music's doing, what it's saying about itself, not just how it sounds on the surface.

Sent by Justin Lane Briggs | 2:08 PM | 12-8-2007

I'm a Radiohead fan and have been since the start. I just think they're good pop music, and they put on a great live performance. The only reason for my comment is that right after I read this article I left the house with my I-Pod set to shuffle. The first song played was Sit Down/Stand Up off the Hail to the Theif album. The second song played was Little Babies.

Sent by jen | 11:20 PM | 12-8-2007

so funny... radiohead and sleater-kinney are my "favorite bands." i never thought that i would read on a computer screen what someone from one of these bands thinks about the other one.

i don't think we should try to force ourselves to try and like music that "real music fans" adore. that said, it always surprises me when someone doesn't like radiohead.

i wonder how many people actually have written ph.d. dissertations on them...

Sent by ss | 2:04 AM | 12-9-2007

Radiohead is without a doubt my favorite band and I think I have found out your problem to why you dont "get it" yet, and listen very closley.

Your problem is that you think there is something to "get". Radiohead is an extremeley talented and innovative band, not the end of Donnie Darko. If you are going to sit and listen to In Rainbows, Kid A, or OK Computer while in your mind you are constantly mouthing "Why dont I get this? Why dont I get this?" then of course your individuality is going to win over you and then you are going to come and write some blog about how you dont think Radiohead is all that.

I just find it hilariously uncoiencidental that the people that feel they dislike or don't "understand" Radiohead are always the ones writing blogs about it.

Sent by John K | 12:11 PM | 12-9-2007

Radioface? No, no, that's a face for television.


"or do a Google image search of me in order to use my face as an office dartboard..." ~ Carrie Brownstein (not Underwood)


Now how could ANYONE do that period.., let alone to such a radiantly beautiful face?

"Another Radiohead album means yet another year I've let myself down." ~ Carrie, the diligent NPR Blogger

Oh fiddle-T-dee and humbug bah's too, don't be so hard on yourself ms. riotgrrl.

On another note, have you ever noticed how Henri Matisse's La Musique looks somewhat strikingly similar to 2/3 of a certain band you may have an affinity with? It depicts two quite captivating women (which is really neither here, nor there, and truly beside the point for all intense purposes) set in a colourful setting awash in the vibrancy of the very energy that is surrounding them, top to bottom, and left to right. Their demeanor is marked by a "cool" and confident vibe that exudes a strength that is markedly more strong than the bold use of colour chosen, and used to paint the very piece. Music is obviously very highly representative to the underlying spirit of what these women appear to bring forth in some manner altogether.

Something with which Radiohead, with all of their cerebral embellishments cannot project, nor represent. By the way, Wow, you really did incite some passionate responses with this question.

Sent by |3rian | 3:18 PM | 12-10-2007

I feel the same way about Arcade Fire. I know they are talented, but I just don't get it.

Sent by James Mustard | 3:28 PM | 12-10-2007

I felt the same once. Then I saw them live, something clicked. I just fit them in nicely in a mix, between G.B.H. and The Gits - at one time that would of been a crime.

Sent by Dave Simmons | 11:18 PM | 12-10-2007

I think it's great that you respect them as musicians, and I will agree with those who said it's nothing new for them. Nothing incredibly experimental; in fact, with the exception of about two tracks, most of them are realyl ethereal-sounding, and more melodious than past albums.

You said you were disappointed with past albums as well (last 7 years). How did you feel about Kid A? That album is complex and brilliant on so many different levels (in my opinion). It's hard to top that in my book.

Sent by tara | 10:58 AM | 12-11-2007

First off, we read "White Noise" in Kill Rock Star's book-reading club earlier this year, and pretty much everyone hated it. Other than someone who had already read it, I think I was the only one to finish it.

Regarding Radiohead, I think you're taking the wrong tack. I hated Patti Smith's covers album, "Twelve," this year. Sure, I groused about it, and even refused to see her tour with it, but pretty much every artist who changes with time is going to release something that you don't like. Accept it, gripe about it for a bit, then get on with your life.

That's what I did with that god-awful "The Woods" album, by some group I used to adore...

Sent by Don Handy | 5:37 PM | 12-11-2007

I can't get past Thom Yorke's voice.

Sent by Brian | 10:55 PM | 12-13-2007

See them live. It makes all the difference in the world. My wife (Who never heard independent music until I took her to a Sleater-Kinney show on our 3rd date) never really got Radiohead until after the first time she saw them live. Incidentally She passed the S-K test and proved she could like good music, and we are still together over 5 yrs later.

Sent by Eron Linver | 3:54 PM | 12-14-2007

Don't think about it; just breath and listen to the music. Radiohead's my favorite band and I've never found myself in a bout of self-loating, depression, and lonlieness by listening to them. I've got my personal life to do that for me! Seriously, why all the Radiohate?

Sent by Luis C. | 8:18 PM | 12-14-2007

The "eerie, cold, and foreboding" comment again? And I thought this was Radiohead's "happy" album? Oh..well they said the same about Kubrick also. I honestly consider both to be extemely emotional. For some reason I thought naively that In Rainbows would be the album that really got to the mainstream crowds.

Either you like it or you dont, it's that simple. It's challenging music. I don't "get" Panda Bear and love the Beach Boys. But if this discussion were over not getting the Beatles i'd say "fuck all y'all".

Sent by Ryan | 8:59 PM | 12-14-2007

They have not come close to OK Computer(specifically "Let Down") or The Bends with any of there albums of this decade in my opinion. However I really like "Four Minute Warning" off of In Rainbows CD2. Check that song out and maybe "Last Flowers" off CD2 as well.

Sent by justin | 11:26 AM | 12-15-2007

Jumping into this party late, but...

I didn???t instantly love Radiohead (or even love them after a few years of casual listening), and I???m always a bit skeptical when people say they did. It???s not fun for your ears at first; it???s not really coffee shop music, unless the coffee contains psychotropics. But when I fell, I fell hard. I can suggest two things:
1. Walk through a city like Boston in late November at dusk with In Rainbows. The music fits a closed-up, cooling, darkening old city (which does feel like a DeLillo novel come to life, but only sometimes, thank god ??? I like DeLillo too, but I also like being able to put the book down sometimes).
2. See them live. It???s a whole different energy. I utterly hated Hail to the Thief until I saw it live; after that, it was an entirely different album to me, and a lot of the blankness and coldness fell away to reveal the beating heart of the songs.

And as for why you should? I guess because it???s the kind of music that gives you space. It carves out a tiny pocket of whatever world you???re in and just lets you feel ??? which is, for me, one of the best things music (or a poem or a story) can do. Radiohead might sound cold or bored or overly layered and complex to the point of incoherency, even after numerous go-rounds, but getting hold of one thread will unravel the whole album.

Sent by Sarah | 3:29 PM | 12-20-2007

The only time I found Thom Yorke's voice appealing at all was in combo w/ Polly Harvey ('This Mess We're In'), sort of like Einar paired w/ Bjork in the Sugarcubes, only falsetto and not guttural-bratty.

I like distinct, if not downright difficult voices. Corin's, too, though not a priori.

Sent by NSF | 10:31 PM | 12-21-2007

"Paranoid Android" @ 1:57 -- 3:33

Sent by tg | 4:46 PM | 12-27-2007

First off, I do like Radiohead and "OK Computer" is one of my favorite records. Like you, I don't get another "big" type group. I don't understand the big hoopla with U2. Every time I hear some of the songs, I think I should be waving some sort of flag in a crowd with many other people to contend that "yes...they are...the biggest band on...the planet". If you aren't into Radiohead, hey that's cool. Lots of people don't dig 'em that much. I think the moment you try to "accept" that their music is enhancing, beautiful, or worse, "something bigger than the music itself", you are settling for an idea that is going to contradict your own impression or reaction and become some sort of converted church goer.

Although on a sidenote, I do worry that Radiohead is being played in coffee houses. I don't go to any, but I thought that music category was reserved for artists like Coldplay and Maroon 5.

Sent by Jack | 4:49 PM | 2-17-2008


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