Radiohead

By Hammond, Shawn | Guitar Player, May 2008 | Go to article overview

Radiohead


Hammond, Shawn, Guitar Player


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

RADIOHEAD'S RADIO SUCCESSES MAY BE limited mostly to the angst-fueled 1993 hit "Creep" (from the British quintet's debut, Pablo Honey) and 1997's sweetly soaring lamentation "Karma Police," but it's no overstatement to say that the band's heady, post-modern mix of stuttering electronic beats, progressive-rock riffs, effects-driven soundscapes, jangly acoustics, and avant-garde jazz chord work has changed rock music as much as the music of Led Zeppelin, U2, Metallica, and Nirvana.

For guitar junkies only vaguely familiar with Radiohead's music, the attention that the press lavishes on the British quintet, combined with the band's distinct lack of overtly flashy guitar work, can give the impression that the group is little more than a fashionable fetish or media darling. It's no secret that guitarists Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, and Thorn Yorke don't appear to give a damn about traditional notions of 6-string greatness (as evidenced by their disinterest in interviews related to their craft). But guitar fanatics should take note anyway, because their neurotically subversive musicianship is remarkable as much for its anti-establishment inventiveness as it is for its heroic avoidance of guitar histrionics and cliches. It's why, for many, Radiohead's triple-guitar anti-threat, combined with Yorke's tortured, quirky falsetto, stark synthscapes, and bittersweet orchestral melodies, provides the perfect soundtrack for life in a world wracked by needless suffering, conspiracy, and high-tech isolation. …

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