Radiohead is a band that I binge-listen to every year or so. I’ll listen to them enough to make my girlfriend, my friends, neighbors and even my dogs sick of Radiohead. Eventually, it gets to me, too, and I put it away again. Eventually, the time will come when I hear a clip of a song on the radio or a song will come up when I’m playing music on random, and I’ll get sucked back in.
Such was the case when I heard the Amplive remix, ‘Videotapez,’ off the amazing remix album, Rainydayz Remixes. The random stopped after that, going to the original from In Rainbows, realizing for probably the 20th time how amazing the album is, and the work they put in to release it by themselves online, the cost of which would be determined by whoever was downloading it. Basically, the honor system.
I made my way back to the album that introduced me to Radiohead, Pablo Honey. It’s the sore thumb of their records, the loud, distorted guitars and brooding, emotional, self-deprecating lyrics that caused them to be grouped in with grunge in the states. It’s pretty hilarious to listen to now, knowing what they’re capable, what they’re producing now and how much they must cringe whenever these songs resurface. It seems like that’s the album they wrote because that’s what they should have made at the time, that’s what the songs were supposed to sound like in the early 90’s. There were no doubt a long line of people telling them the same thing, and they followed along for a couple years, eventually pulling away altogether to create music that sounded like whatever they wanted it to sound like.
Radiohead are also an interesting study in recording techniques alongside Nigel Godrich and their songs function as a showcase of old, eccentric analog and electronic instruments, namely the Theramin and the Ondes Martenot. Even in a live environment, the band continually evolves innovates. You can hear a perfect example of this on the live recording of ‘Idioteque’ off “I Might Be Wrong.” Jonny Greenwood actually samples the crowd noise, manipulates the sound and plays it back as a component of the song.
The band is continually improving, refining their sound, not afraid of change or experimentation. Let that be your inspiration, or your focus this Sunday. Do what you want to, not what everybody around you tells you do to.