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RADIOHEAD

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Radiohead biography
With every new album, UK quintet Radiohead reaches ever further to expand their sound, shedding their initial classification as an alt.rock band to become one of the leaders in experimental, challenging modern music.

Radiohead's official introduction to the world was 1993's 'Pablo Honey', built of simple songs that were introspective and sometimes melancholic. Garnering massive success thanks to a huge hit single, Radiohead turned a cold shoulder to the mainstream and recorded 'The Bends', which, while still firmly in the modern-rock mold, didn't make concessions to the mainstream's expectations. Experimentation and arrangements began to blossom on this album, but only hinted at their next phase. 'OK Computer' was released in 1997 and took the world by storm, alienating some older fans while gaining a slew of new fans from all walks of musical life. This album turned the idea of the modern rock album on its head, utilizing a vast array of sounds, touching on everything from '70s progressive rock to the emerging techno/electronica movement, strengthened with a rather grandiose production job. It was an ambitious, adventurous work that will hold up decades from now. Despite spawning several hit singles, it was an immense chunk of diversity that showed Radiohead were going to be an unpredictable entity in the ensuing years.

To their credit, the band did not rest on their laurels as the mainstream's darling art rock band, pushing the envelope much further upon the release of 2000's 'Kid A'. An angular, sometimes difficult work, 'Kid A' was a perplexing shift in direction. It sometimes sounds like a band running riot in a musical equipment warehouse/museum, such is its wide array of tones and sonic dexterity. Songs become anti-songs, and you never know what's waiting around the corner. Capitalizing on this newfound freedom to go anywhere with their music, the band released 'Amnesiac' a year later, often looked at as the companion piece to 'Kid A'. 'Amnesiac' mirrored the approach of 'Kid A' while holding up strongly in its own right.

2003 brought the band's sixth studio album, 'Hail To The Thief', a 14-song monster that seemed to be the culmination of everything that came before it, with a firm eye toward a number of new realms. With a seemingly limitless arsenal of ideas and the electronic toys to make those ideas become reality, the future sound of Radiohead is an open field for them to play upon, to the delight of their diverse group of...
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A Moon Shaped PoolA Moon Shaped Pool
Import
XL Recordings 2016
Audio CD$4.79
$8.49 (used)
OK Computer (2xLP) (180g)OK Computer (2xLP) (180g)
XL Recordings 2016
Vinyl$19.99
$75.00 (used)
In Rainbows [Vinyl]In Rainbows [Vinyl]
TBD Records 2007
Vinyl$20.97
$16.70 (used)
Kid A (2x10Kid A (2x10") (180g)
Capitol Records 2016
Vinyl$19.49
$22.31 (used)
The Bends (180g)The Bends (180g)
Capitol Recordings 2016
Vinyl$16.90
$67.00 (used)
Pablo HoneyPablo Honey
Import
Parlophone 1993
Audio CD$3.74
$0.31 (used)
AmnesiacAmnesiac
Parlophone 2001
Audio CD$4.39
$0.26 (used)
Best of: RADIOHEADBest of: RADIOHEAD
Import
EMI Europe Generic 2008
Audio CD$12.00
$11.05 (used)
Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool Vinyl 2LPRadiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool Vinyl 2LP
Collector's Edition
TTL-RH
Vinyl$23.75
$30.00 (used)
Hail To the Thief (2xLP) (45 RPM) (180g)Hail To the Thief (2xLP) (45 RPM) (180g)
XL Recordings 2016
Vinyl$19.98
$22.31 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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13h 32m
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RADIOHEAD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

RADIOHEAD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.50 | 312 ratings
Pablo Honey
1993
3.79 | 487 ratings
The Bends
1995
4.03 | 843 ratings
OK Computer
1997
3.94 | 674 ratings
Kid A
2000
3.61 | 381 ratings
Amnesiac
2001
3.44 | 391 ratings
Hail To The Thief
2003
3.81 | 486 ratings
In Rainbows
2007
3.29 | 302 ratings
The King Of Limbs
2011
4.04 | 195 ratings
A Moon Shaped Pool
2016

RADIOHEAD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 81 ratings
I Might Be Wrong
2001

RADIOHEAD Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.27 | 21 ratings
7 Television Commercials
1998
2.78 | 18 ratings
The Astoria London Live
2005
3.22 | 17 ratings
The Best Of
2008
4.24 | 18 ratings
The Kings Of Limbs - Live From The Basement
2012

RADIOHEAD Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.15 | 20 ratings
Radiohead Box Set
2007
3.24 | 19 ratings
The Best Of
2008
3.00 | 8 ratings
TKOL RMX 1234567
2011

RADIOHEAD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.60 | 10 ratings
Drill
1992
3.35 | 52 ratings
My Iron Lung
1994
2.56 | 18 ratings
Itch
1994
2.94 | 15 ratings
Street Spirit (Fade Out)
1996
4.30 | 20 ratings
Paranoid Android
1997
3.93 | 14 ratings
No Surprises / Running From Demons
1997
3.79 | 40 ratings
Airbag/How Am I Driving?
1998
2.35 | 21 ratings
Pyramid Song
2001
2.84 | 17 ratings
There There
2003
2.42 | 12 ratings
Go To Sleep
2003
2.41 | 27 ratings
Com Lag: 2plus2isfive
2004
4.00 | 11 ratings
Reckoner
2008
3.89 | 9 ratings
Bodysnatchers / House Of Cards
2008
4.00 | 12 ratings
Nude
2008
4.07 | 14 ratings
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
2008
2.11 | 16 ratings
Harry Patch (In Memory Of)
2009
2.89 | 26 ratings
These Are My Twisted Words
2009
3.31 | 23 ratings
Supercollider / The Butcher
2011
3.39 | 17 ratings
The Daily Mail / Staircase
2011
3.86 | 7 ratings
Spectre
2015

RADIOHEAD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Moon Shaped Pool by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 195 ratings

BUY
A Moon Shaped Pool
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Yup, sounds like Radiohead. In making this album, Radiohead dropped the charade of "we don't want to make full length albums anymore" (which I still somewhat feel like was an excuse for not bothering to fully finish King of Limbs more than anything), and the resulting product sounds like the proper successor that In Rainbows (now 9 years old) never really had. This is both an earnest compliment and a slightly backhanded one; it's nice to hear a collection of polished and meticulously crafted material that shows Radiohead playing to its considerable strengths, on the one hand, but it's kinda somewhat fascinating to me, on the other hand, to hear them continue to cling so closely to their preferred approaches in style and mood, on the other. As with In Rainbows, I don't consider this devotion to what clearly works as anything near a fatal flaw, but as somebody who hovers in the range of liking and respecting the band without loving it, I find myself once again slightly disappointed by this feeling of coasting.

One particular aspect that this album has in common with In Rainbows is that it contains recordings of material that the band had written many years earlier but had never recorded to their satisfaction. The biggest news along these lines concerns the closing "True Love Waits," which had been sparsely played live since its creation in 1995 (and which had previously closed I Might Be Wrong as a ballad for solo acoustic guitar) and finally gets its long-awaited studio release here. This time around, guitar is replaced by overdubbed pianos each playing a simple phrase (but layered and staggered in a way to make the arrangement sound much thicker and more intricate than would any one part), and the end result is quite different from the acoustic version but equally affecting. Honestly, I wouldn't know that this song had any sort of "long-awaited legend" status associated with it if I hadn't gone out of my way to read this, and I don't see this as one of the main highlights of the album, but it's still rather lovely. The leftover that interests me most is the one that starts off the album; "Burn the Witch" originated in the Kid A sessions, and the band had dabbled with it in subsequent sessions, but it wasn't until now that they settled on the right way to approach it. Unlike other typical cases where the band had made use of strings, where they were a decorative flourish (albeit often an important one), this song centers around strings, both in terms of carrying the underpinning harmonies (courtesy of the low strings) and in terms of providing a percussive element (instead of bowing the notes they are struck with the bow, and this incessant striking creates a jittery feel not unlike that of the guitars in early Talking Heads or something like that). The third leftover is "Present Tense," which the band wrote in 2008 but didn't make the cut when the band got around to recording King of Limbs; it's an ok song, featuring acoustic guitars over a Latin beat and ghostly harmonies, and while it probably wouldn't have fit well with the other numbers on King of Limbs, that wouldn't necessarily have been a bad thing.

Of the remaining eight tracks, two clearly stand out from the pack for me. The first is "Daydreaming," which marks the closest the band has come to ambient music since "Treefingers" 16 years earlier; 6+ minutes might seem like much for a track that's basically nothing but sparse singing over a simple piano line with bits of various additional effects (like the eerily just-out-of-tune bits of synth playing something similar to the main piano line), but the time flies by, and when the angry strings swoop in at about the five minute mark, the effect of it is terrific. I should note that I'm not inclined to make a huge deal out of the warped and reversed vocals tucked near the end, with Yorke making various allusions to the end of his long-term relationship; I genuinely thought the first half dozen times I listened that the last 30 seconds was supposed to be snoring and then cellos imitating snoring, and that's kinda the way I prefer it. The other one that wows me is "Ful Stop," which the band had first played on the King of Limbs tour but that (according to my understanding) hadn't been written in time for possible inclusion on that album. It's an incredible exercise in layering arrangements gradually, starting off as a creepy bassline over a pulsating electronic drum part, then adding an incredibly atmospheric slow synth line and bits of production curiosities. By the middle of the song, it becomes something resembling a top-notch Hail to the Thief guitar-heavy number (with all of the previous elements still going strong), and it's in this song especially that I find myself understanding why so many people gush over this album.

Beyond the previously mentioned highlights, the only one that really jumps out at me is the gloriously titled "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief," which starts off sounding exactly like a high-quality leftover from Kid A/Amensiac but eventually takes on some aspects in the piano and especially the strings that give it a personality distinct from the typical material from those sessions. The other five tracks are ... fine. It would be a lie for me to say that they all sound alike ("Desert Island Disk" starts off with acoustic guitar while the others don't, and "Glass Eyes" has a false start that leads into a lovely sounding bit of treated piano), and I know that they each have their own interesting details when I bother to pay attention closely, but I have listened to this album a very reasonable amount of times and I could not tell you which track was which (if you played me a 15 second clip from the middle of any of them) even with my family's life on the line. I enjoy every single one of them when on, and when the album is off the only lasting impression that any of them leaves with me is "yup, that was a track from Radiohead's 2016 album A Moon Shaped Pool alright, at least I think it was, wait that wasn't from In Rainbows or King of Limbs right ok just checking."

Truth be told, after three listens, I thought about giving this a lower grade, but on the fourth listen "Daydreaming" and "Ful Stop" emerged from the morass as unmistakable highlights (when I already liked the opening "Burn the Witch" a lot, almost certainly because it was first), and they helped me make the case to myself to bump this up. For a serious Radiohead fan, this will probably seem like another message from the gods, and there's no reason for them not to own and like this. For the more casual Radiohead fans among us, this is still a delight, and it's a relief to hear that King of Limbs was just a bump and not a pivot towards clear decline, but it's not a critical part of their career, "True Love Waits" notwithstanding.

 A Moon Shaped Pool by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 195 ratings

BUY
A Moon Shaped Pool
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars I am not a Radiohead fan. I have never been able to pick up on the supposed genius and innovation that the band has bestowed upon the fortunate world. But they have had a few songs that at least have got me interested enough to listen to their music. "Subterranean Homesick Alien," "Optimistic," "Everything in Its Right Place," and "Arpeggios/Weird Fishes" are all great songs. Still, seeing the positive reviews pouring in when A Moon Shaped Pool was released got me interested enough to buy the album. It's taken me some time to get to know and judge the album. A Moon Shaped Pool is definitely an appropriate title--incorporating two references that I find quite appropriate: the all-pervasive murky, underwater rendering of many of the instruments in the way that Harold Budd and Brian Eno once pioneered on albums like Discreet Music, Plateaux of Mirror, The Pearl, and others as well as the pseudonym chosen by Budd and Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie for their THE MOON AND THE MELODIES collaboration.

1. "Burn The Witch" (3:40) a perky, almost frenetic and driving beat beneath the vocals here makes this one engaging and yet almost annoying. (8/10)

2. "Daydreaming" (6:24) is a gentle song with lots of headphones-pleasing subtleties and pitch-bent sounds flitting in and out of the soundscape. I really enjoy this one. Another 'under water'-like listening experience. One of my top three songs from the album. (9/10)

3. "Decks Dark" (4:41) weird treated piano sound manipulations with distant drum machine open this song before Thom and real-time piano bring in the melody and lyric. At 1:25 the band joins in--as do some eery background female vocals and electric guitar--which almost drown Thom's vocal out! (Interesting engineering choice!) The song may want to sound dark and eery but the lasting effect is once again to make the listener feel as though they're minds are being messed with--as if our reality is being distorted. Interesting. (8/10)

4. "Desert Island Disk" (3:44) acoustic guitar played with finger pads opens this song. More eery background (left channel) heavily treated and pitchbent sounds play--(with equally spacey distorted guitar appearing intermittently in the right channel). All the while Thom Yorke sings dreamily over the top. An acid/psychedelic folk song? (8/10)

5. "Ful Stop" (6:07) opens with a two-note bass line, fast bass drum beat, and heavily treated snare beat swimming within the horn-like synths floating around beneath left and above right. Thom's vocals are a little higher pitched and sound a little more affected than usual here. Then at 3:25 he begins repeating in a tow falsettos "truth will mess you up" and "all the good times, one over the other in layered channels. Interestingly effective--much in the same way I find "Arpeggio/Weird Fishes" so hypnotic. (9/10)

6. "Glass Eyes" (2:52) opens with more heavily, heavily treated piano accompanied beautifully by the strings of the London Contemporary Orchestra. Thom's sedate vocal is present very front and forward, even a little below us, as he sings as if the long night of drinking has left him alone and philosophical. One of my top three--probably my favorite song on the album. (10/10)

7. "Identikit" (4:26) opens with one of the band's sparse and seemingly simple rhythms, bass, drums and guitar, before layers of Thom Yorke voices fill much of the soundscape--as if different parts of Thom are singing each in different dimensions. Then at 2:05 the voices unify into one direct voice front and center singing about broken hearts making it rain--which is then repeated by the female choir of the London Contemporary Orchestra. The multi-dimensional voices return as reggae-like bass and lead guitar take increasing prominence to the end. Pretty cool song--worth multiple visits. (8/10)

8. "The Numbers" (5:45) opens like a combination of 1960's opening to John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" and the morph into a CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG psych folk anthem. Could be a great song from Sweden's THE AMAZING. Acoustic guitar, piano, treated piano, electric guitar, busy bass, and background snare-dominated drums populate the soundscape as Thom sings within the psychedelia. Very cool sound. At 3:33 orchestra strings join in providing a very effective BEATLES-like presence. Finale with choir and strings supporting Thom and the pianos. Another tope three song for me. (I'm just a sucker for that CSN&Y sound.) (9/10)

9. "Present Tense" (5:06) opens with a basso nova-like rhythm and Thom's "ooo"s. An interesting choice of music to accompany Thom's plaintive, despondent vocal about the overabundance of human-inflicted violence on our planet (or is it about the breakup of a relationship of his?). Okay song. Probably my least favorite on the album. (7/10)

10. "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief" (5:03) opens with old time tape his over cheesy sounding drum-machine beats and syncopated old-time electric piano chord hits. Thom soon enters and sings in his higher register voice (which, I just noticed, is quite similar to that of SIGUR RÓS's Jónsi). A lot of orchestral strings and female choir effects are added to the usual Radiohead electronically manipulated sounds making this an interesting representation of the human conundrum of living in our computer age. The song could have been further or better developed. (7/10)

11. "True Love Waits" (4:43) two and then three and four Harold Budd-like treated piano tracks support another higher register, but more plaintive Thom Yorke vocal. The deviation from single time signature to more polyrhythmic effect in the third minute gives the song a bit more interest--but almost to the distraction of the vocal. Plus, I'm not sure why, but the sound engineering has (I'm assuming) allowed some scratchy tape static and hiss to be present in the soundscape--which I happen to find a bit distracting and annoying. Otherwise, this might be considered a pretty ingenious little song. (9/10)

All in all I think the experimentation with sound engineering got away from Thom and the band a little on this one-- some of the "old" effects like hiss, static, scratches, whirl and wobble on this album are a bit annoying and distracting. Digital CD sound is not 'supposed' to sound like this! I'm totally clueless as to why a band would want this on their album, but it's here. The songs are mostly pleasant enough--and the incorporation of the London Contemporary Orchestra and Female Choir are powerful and quite welcome. And I do like and appreciate the sonic engineering the band incorporate into their soundscapes, but, it can get to be a bit much. Still, this is a very good album from a very good band. I'll recommend this one with a solid four stars.

 A Moon Shaped Pool by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 195 ratings

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A Moon Shaped Pool
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

4 stars A UK outfit RADIOHEAD have changed their expression and impression every time they released an album, but they have kept upon their identified anacatesthesia and pessimism via production and voices mainly by Thom YORKE for over thirty years (or at least since their first album "Pablo Honey" was released in 1993). Their 9th album "A Moon Shaped Pool" could be felt not purely pop nor forcibly complicated but familiarity with anti-pop intensity. Every fan (like me!) who has been following them since their debut album launched would have looked forward to their creation, and he/she would not be betrayed also by this one I suggest. Various sound appearances can be heard here and there, which should drive us crazy - kinda killer one indeed. For them (especially Thom himself), either what is acoustic or how electronic ought to be should not be cared, and it's natural they represent what boils up in their inner space. Let me say this phenomenon might be their charm eternally.

Anyway we would not have come across such a combo who create "monotonous pop / rock" so frequently. Their mysterious monotonous melody lines have obvious auditory extension and variation. No multitempo nor tone change can be heard but enthusiasm and powerful intention for production always addict the audience perfectly. The first shot "Burn The Witch" or "Desert Island Disk" sounds hypnotically acoustic with definite comfort. The comfort might grow up along with Thom's flat voices I imagine. "Daydreaming" (as the title says) or "Glass Eyes" (as if fragile glass would break away) throws us into a sensitive dream in the afternoon, filled with their electronic agents. "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief", I'm sure this be their masterpiece in this album, reminds me of their innovative, energetic and simultaneously delicate creativity that could be heard in "The Bends" or "OK Computer" a long while ago.

Cheers for their stubborn (!) music expression strategies and incredible taste kept for over thirty years. You're artists of genius.

 A Moon Shaped Pool by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 195 ratings

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A Moon Shaped Pool
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Emerging after a five-year period of post-King of Limbs dormancy, Radiohead evidently spent the downtime shifting gear yet again. Just as they'd shifted from grouchy, misanthropic indie rock to esoteric prog-tinged indie guitar symphonies between The Bends and OK Computer, and then shifted again to abrasive electronica for Kid A and the subsequent releases, this time around they've managed to pull off another surprise by shifting gear to their gentlest sound ever, with a sort of Radiohead-ified modernised Scott Walker narrative on the opening Burn the Witch setting the scene for what's going down from there on.

This progressive chamber pop sound presents a new musical frontier for Radiohead to occupy, and they manage to do it perfectly; it's perhaps the most accessible thing they've done since OK Computer, though equally I can see how they needed to go through all the electronic hinterlands they have explored since then in order to arrive at this sound.

 A Moon Shaped Pool by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 195 ratings

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A Moon Shaped Pool
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by rogerthat
Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Thank God Radiohead tracks are on the shorter side! The other day I sat down in my suburban train and basked in the sounds of Daydreaming followed by Decks Dark (both tracks from the new album A Moon Shaped Pool). So lost was I in the music that had Decks Dark not wound down in time, I would have missed my change station. Aw, you thought I was going to say they can't make epics and all that ;)

And the above sums up the experience of listening to A Moon Shaped Pool. It is perhaps the least innovative Radiohead album from Bends and onwards (which is NOT to say it lacks innovation) and yet it is also like no other Radiohead album. After all this time, Thom Yorke & Co (or should I say Johnny Greenwood & Co) segue from experimentation to emotion and have just made the most lovely, organic and heartfelt album of recent times. There is less (next to no) frenzy in this album but tons and tons of involvement. Radiohead have arrived.

Let's just take the two tracks I mentioned at the outset. Daydreaming starts with a calm, soft piano figure on loop and proceeds into Yorke's characteristic undecipherable wailing. But at the end of each vocal fragment is a Tony Banks-like progression. Now where did that come from? This theme endures throughout the album (also noticeable in the little choir-keyboard interlude in Identikit for example). From nowhere, very 70s sounding passages of music blend seamlessly into Radiohead's characteristic....well, what is it, alt rock, electronica, prog rock ;) ?

On this album, more than ever, Radiohead's music defies categorisation. At first brush, it appears to lean more towards rock and yet the construction of tracks like Daydreaming or Tinker Tailor is more, well, progressive and avoids the usual verse-chorus pattern. And yet, the album sounds the most organic, the most, well, graceful that a Radiohead album could ever. Phil Selway in particular handles it all with a very light touch but the orchestration too is majestic, flowing, delicate (yes, all these things at the same time) in ways you've never heard on a Radiohead album. Radiohead may not have broken into new frontiers genre wise on this album but their very approach to making music appears to have changed.

How is this explained, especially when you consider that a good proportion of the tracks have already been performed live for years? The answer is Johnny Greenwood. I am led to believe that Greenwood's work in scoring for films carried over into this album and if that is so, then I do see the hand of a master orchestrator. The songs transform from their embryonic versions owing to the way they are built up, the way they are embellished with a tapestry of intricate figures, loops and just plain sound at times. And so it is that we land up with this wonderful blend of strings arrangements, electronic music, 70s throwbacks and, finally, just good old Radiohead guitar.

Which brings me to Decks Dark. A song so vulnerable in its despairing solitude it brought me to the verge of tears (and on checking out conversations on the internet, I found I was not alone). Anyway...it starts with yet another piece of soft, calm piano that underpins Yorke's plaintive vocals. Which in turn lead into a very gloomy, wailing choir that accompanies the comparatively more animated chorus. And then, in the end, almost without warning, we are led into a sharp, though still slow, guitar riff. But wait...there's actually piano overlaying the guitar....

Describing the multitude of twists and turns in this albums and the little surprises it keeps springing on me as I listen more and more would take eons. Plus, doing so would only spoil the fun for you the listener. Suffice it to say that this is an album that feels crafted rather than put together and an album where creative choices seem to flow from the emotion sought to be expressed rather than creativity for the sake of creativity itself.

Radiohead remain to this day a contentious addition to this website. A Moon Shaped Pool is the closest they have got to making an album that may perhaps be found by old school progheads to be prog (though I wouldn't hold my breath). Progressive not for time sig complexity but progressive simply because mainstream non progressive rock has no use for so much intricacy and depth of musicianship. It sounds an odd thing to say for an album that I described as the least innovative Radiohead album from Bends onwards, but A Moon Shaped Pool will stand the test of time better than its illustrious predecessors OK Computer and Kid A and is, in my admittedly premature estimation, a greater achievement than those celebrated albums. One of the most thoughtful and intelligent bands of our times have connected with their soul and in the process given us one for the ages. Five stars.

 I Might Be Wrong by RADIOHEAD album cover Live, 2001
3.57 | 81 ratings

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I Might Be Wrong
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by CassandraLeo

5 stars When Kid A and Amnesiac came out, listeners were concerned about how the material from them would sound live, as there were plenty of signs that Radiohead had relied on studio trickery to achieve much of those albums' sound. It was an open question as to whether the band would be able to reproduce those songs live without significant changes to them, and fans were worried that the material would suffer in translation.

As it turns out, they had nothing to worry about, as the band were able to present all the important elements of nearly all the material here from those albums, as attested by this brief but enlightening live recording. Many of these songs actually sound better than their studio counterparts. The only song that differed significantly in arrangement was the electronic composition "Like Spinning Plates", which relied in the studio on backmasking and tape loops. Here it's presented as a stark piano ballad. It's a very different song, but both versions of the song are incredible, and it's unlikely anyone will complain about the song's metamorphosis.

Most of the other songs strongly resemble their studio counterparts, but many of them sound better due to the band's energy as a live act and the superior mastering of this release. Most of the band's studio releases have been subject to the "loudness war", a trend whereby releases are subjected to increasing dynamic range compression in the ongoing pursuit of loudness. Unfortunately, this frequently sucks all the life out of the recording, and in the case of Amnesiac resulted in the material being distorted due to digital clipping (in which the peaks and troughs of waveforms are simply flattened, resulting in a muffled sound). This distortion is almost completely absent from this release; while it's still compressed, it's not as loud as either Kid A or Amnesiac, and has none of the clipping that plagued the latter release.

The other song most dramatically transformed from its studio counterpart here is "Everything in Its Right Place", which is extended by several minutes with a coda that incorporates several processed layers of Yorke's voice. It's a hypnotic effect comparable to what Queen did on A Night at the Opera or what 10cc did on "I'm Not in Love", and it makes an already great composition even greater. The EP closes with the band's legendary song "True Love Waits", which had been débuted live as far back as 1995 and did not appear on a studio album until twenty-one years later. However, the studio version wound up having a radically different arrangement, based largely on electric piano. Here, it's presented as a stark acoustic guitar ballad, and it's just as essential as the studio version.

The only downside to this release is its brevity, but since it's considered an EP, it's difficult to mind much. One does wish that more live material from this era (or from the band in general) were available, because their prowess as a live act is legendary. But then, that's a central tenet of showbiz: Leave them wanting more.

 A Moon Shaped Pool by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 195 ratings

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A Moon Shaped Pool
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by CassandraLeo

5 stars I'm having a difficult time thinking of any other album this year that was as heavily anticipated as A Moon Shaped Pool, apart from maybe David Bowie's Blackstar. This release comes after five years of studio silence between Radiohead albums, the longest gap between releases to date. It also contains several previously unreleased songs that had become legendary amongst fans of the band, most notably "Burn the Witch", which dates back to the Kid A sessions in composition and had never been performed in public (apart from a few chords). "True Love Waits" had been previously available on the EP I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, but it's finally getting a studio release twenty-one years after it was premièred live. Most of the other songs don't have such a lengthy lineage, but many of them date back at least eight years.

The material on this album is largely subdued orchestral art pop, in many cases reflecting Thom Yorke's recent separation from his partner of twenty-three years. This is obliquely referenced on several cuts from the album; for example, "Daydreaming" contains a backmasked vocal that has been interpreted by fans as saying "Half of my life". Yorke is, one may note, currently forty-seven years old, meaning that he was with his former partner for nearly half of his life. "True Love Waits" was previously a tender, haunting love song, but in the album's current context it becomes even more emotional, with the song's refrain of "Just don't leave" becoming more resonant than ever.

Other songs are perceived to address the political issues one would expect from a Radiohead record. "Burn the Witch" has been interpreted as addressing the scapegoating of immigrants or authoritarianism and groupthink, while "The Numbers" addresses climate change. The album's title seems to be a reference to the Earth itself in the aftermath of global warming: after the melting of the polar ice caps, all that will be left is a moon-shaped pool. Notably, the shape on the cover resembles a distorted version of North America.

The album benefits strongly from Jonny Greenwood's string arrangements, which can be found on many of the album's songs (most obviously the lead single, "Burn the Witch"). Other songs, such as "True Love Waits", have more sparse arrangements. This song, when performed live, was usually performed as an acoustic guitar number, sometimes with a synthesizer accompaniment. Here, it's performed mostly on a solitary electric piano, with sparse additional instrumentation, and it's even more heartbreaking than ever.

A Moon Shaped Pool will undoubtedly be one of the most talked-about releases of the year, and thankfully, Radiohead have lived up to expectations. The only significant flaw I can cite with the album is its mastering, but this is of course nothing new for the band. Most of the songs distort significantly from clipping; "The Numbers" has attracted significant complaint from listeners for this problem. However, this flaw isn't enough to counteract the power of this music, and it makes another worthwhile addition to Radiohead's already legendary canon.

 The Kings Of Limbs - Live From The Basement by RADIOHEAD album cover DVD/Video, 2012
4.24 | 18 ratings

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The Kings Of Limbs - Live From The Basement
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by CassandraLeo

5 stars The King of Limbs has received a somewhat mixed reception when compared to Radiohead's previous albums since The Bends. In truth, the songs on it are all quite good, but it's the sort of album that requires repeated listening to unpack, since it's rather unlike anything the band or (for that matter) anyone else has done previously, and it has a rather significant problem in that nearly every song is better live than it was in the studio.

Hence, this live release. The band is joined by extra percussionist Clive Deaver (also known for his work with Portishead) and several wind instrument players. The benefit to the band's sound is substantial. "Bloom" is a case in point; while the studio version was an endearing composition already, the expanded sound just adds to the song's effect. The majority of songs here are vastly superior to their studio counterparts.

This live collection also benefits over the studio release in another important manner: it has more songs. The King of Limbs has often been criticised for being too short, especially since the band had several other excellent songs from the sessions that were released on singles shortly after the album's release. Three of those songs are included here, and they're worthy additions to the corpus of the album, making listeners wonder why they were left off the album in the first place. (The band claims that they didn't flow right with the rest of the material, but given the fact that no song on the album sounds like any other song on the album, listeners will probably not find this to be a satisfactory explanation).

My only complaint is with the terrible mastering, but unfortunately that's been a problem with nearly all of Radiohead's material going back to Amnesiac (including most of these songs' studio counterparts), so nothing new here.

In any case, this live release is strongly recommended, and should convince sceptical listeners that this period in Radiohead's career was just as worthwhile as any of the others.

 Pablo Honey by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.50 | 312 ratings

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Pablo Honey
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by CassandraLeo

3 stars First things first: There is almost nothing prog about this album. The opener, "You", alternates three bars of 6/8 and one bar of 5/8. That's pretty much the only prog touch on the album; none of the songs even breaks the six-minute mark (granted, neither did any of the songs on The Bends). There also isn't much hint of the experimental juggernaut that Radiohead would later become. It's pretty much a straightforward grunge-meets-Britpop effort. This may be a somewhat uncommon mixture of styles, but it's certainly not a patch on the genre-breaking work Radiohead would do later with efforts like OK Computer and Kid A.

However, all that aside, it's a solid debut, and doesn't deserve the pasting a lot of reviewers give it. It suffers in comparison to the band's later efforts, so people have the inclination to label this album as being much worse than it actually is. Songs like the aforementioned "You", the closer "Blow Out", and the anthemic "Anyone Can Play Guitar", all three of which are probably as good as anything on The Bends, provide solid proof that the album is much more than a showcase for the band's early hit "Creep" (which is also a much better song than it's frequently given credit for being). The brief, furious "How Do You?", the reflective, almost R.E.M.-ish "Stop Whispering", and the almost heartbreaking "Lurgee" also stand out as strong tracks.

New listeners, particularly if they're looking for something progressive, certainly shouldn't start here (the most sensible recommendation is probably to start with The Bends and work forward, then come back here, but I started with Kid A when it was released and never looked back), but this release shouldn't be overlooked completely. There are plenty of wonderful songs here.

 A Moon Shaped Pool by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 195 ratings

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A Moon Shaped Pool
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars There are several things that are very special about very eclectic artists and bands, but what sticks out to me is the unpredictability that results, and how that effects the lead up to a new album. When you look at a band like Radiohead, who make a habit out of defying expectation, trying new things, digging up old songs, and being cryptic as all heck heading towards a release, this is particularly acute. You're left wondering and wondering and hoping and scraping through muck with your bare hands to figure out anything you can about what Oxford's finest's next adventure has in store.

Then comes actually listening to their shiny new sound.

To be so crass as to compare this to older albums, this is mostly something of a mashup of "Amnesiac" and "In Rainbows", taking electronics and orchestration familiar to the former, with a bit of the roulette style of tracklisting, and crossing it with the accessibility, flow, and sonic-smoothie-esque flavours of the latter. Of course, you'll be able to trace where "The King of Limbs"'s electronics led to this - and now we see a confirmed pattern of comparative experimentation and comparative accessibility between every two 21st century head unit albums - and the closing studio version of "True Love Waits" (!) has electronics that instead buck the album's holding pattern and remind of "Kid A", but the first comparison should give you an idea of what to expect.

Side note from TLW: this has the highest turnover rate of any album of theirs in terms of older songs finally getting finished: "Burn The Witch", "Ful Stop", "Identikit", "Present Tense", even TLW, which did have an official release as a live cut a decade ago. This alone makes "A Moon Shaped Pool" a necessary listen. Go team!

More specifically, the tracks sound as follows... "Burn The Witch" is an outlier, a tense, string driven, practically chamber piece, with lyrics suggesting government round ups and McCarthyism. "Daydreaming" and "Decks Dark" announce the main electronic styles of the record, and flow into each other well. The former, up to its positioning, distantly recalls "Pyramid Song". The tracks debuted by Thom in Paris last year, "Silent Spring" and "Desert Island Disk", come to us as acoustic guitar driven songs that are surrounded by more electronics and complimentary strings, with the former now called "The Numbers" - "The Present Tense" also ended up with a similar treatment. "Identikit"'s prog-friendly structure has been perfected, and it is the other driving part of the album. "Tinker Tailor" features an electronic rhythm. "True Love Waits" comes off as a more natural "Motion Picture Soundtrack". The remainder compare to the mid-album tracks from "In Rainbows" while sticking to the flavours of the rest of this one.

And it's one of the best albums of the year. But what else did you expect from Radiohead?

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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