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Radiohead is “Serious Listening”

While there are many early reviews already pouring in for The King Of Limbs, there are also some more carefully thought out articles that are placing the record in a larger context. Over at Vulture, the always excellent Nitsuh Abebe has composed a thoughtful and interesting article about Radiohead’s unique place in today’s ever changing music landscape:

They’re the one band who can self-release music like this and have people lined up to put down money for it, and that gives them a whole lot of freedom. So can we just take a moment to marvel at how totally unlikely this is? Radiohead have a large, broad, devoted fan base, on a scale most proper pop stars struggle to muster. They have this while making a kind of music that, when it’s coming from anyone else, tends to get dismissed as marginal, obscure, and pretentious, or even a pointless, hookless, self-important snooze. They’re the one act normal rock fans trust to introduce them to sounds and ideas from further afield — from electronic music, experimental music, contemporary classical, wherever. No other band makes so many fans turn quite so studiously patient and open-minded. It’s as if the world has agreed that this is the one flagship group everyone will turn to for that experience — the band people will enjoy taking seriously, approaching slowly, and pondering as art rather than entertainment. The whole concept of “serious listening” has somehow become this one act’s brand. How improbable is that?

The whole article is definitely worth your time.

19 Comments

  • Beautifully put. :)

  • I was thinking today about the new album and how it’s growing on me and how i would have instantly dismissed it were it not a Radiohead album. This is very true, good article.

  • Yes, the whole article is worth your time. Thanks for sharing this.

  • ‘No other band makes so many fans turn quite so studiously patient and open-minded.’ obviously hasn’t read through the TKOL reactions on atease.

    But wholeheartedly agree.

  • I love this. Radiohead has gotten me into so much amazing music – when i was a teenager all i cared about was rock and grunge. now i’m listening to four tet and flying lotus.

  • Yep, definitely a gateway band. Glad you guys dug the article.

  • “I’d love it if this understated little release really did turn out to be the warm-up for something grand — if those clackety rhythmic ideas they’re toying with up front came bursting out on their next release, with a little less of the beautiful weariness and a little more of that itching-in-your-skin frustration”

    You and me both!

  • I’m surprised “These are My Twisted Words” was not included on the album. I think it would have fit perfectly.

  • Gosh I totally agree. A great article. I also have started listening to “new” music because of the band. Four Tet, Modeselektor, Aphex Twin, Messiaen, the list goes on. Love the band.

  • good article. i think the patience of the radiohead crowd is overstated considering the instant-whining of too many of them, but nonetheless a great reflection of their role in shaping a really diverse array of music listeners.

  • Such a great article! This is the exact reason I love Radiohead as a band. They make me realize I like a music I didn’t even know I did. I am loving Flying Lotus influence and his new album is amazing!

    Thank you Radiohead for providing such fantastic music! Love the new album!

  • [ "Start insisting on something in particular, and you'll wind up like one of those poor, stubborn souls who, sixteen years later, are still annoyed the band's not rocking out like they did on The Bends" ]

    pretty much sums up MOST of the atease Message Board “users” to a freaken T!

  • They have perfected the art of creating an album thats designed not to have instant gratifiction – an album entirely devoid of a traditional hook. yet each listen reveals more and more. this album will say volumes in a year. i love that they go out of their way to do exactly the opposite of popular convention. they have made an album that you aren’t supposed to like – and as much as you try to not like it, you can’t help but discover new layers. Its an album that will only appeal to those that give it the time it needs to be appreciated – if you don’t have the patience, you are not going to like it. So literal, i love it.

  • @pocket, i agree with you completely. i’ve experienced this album as calm and peaceful, a way i have not experienced any other radiohead albums. also, i love that radiohead’s music in a way, challenges me to experience music as purely a form of expression, to be examined and felt. not just something that is pretty to listen to. in that sense, the article definitely rings true….

  • I haven’t read the whole article, but agree entirely with the above. I said elsewhere that I’ve not loved a radiohead album immediately since the bends, but there’s usually 1 or 2 songs that draw you in. The rest of the songs on the album then unfurl themselves (like a lotus flower you might say). I’m sure I wouldn’t give other bands as much of a chance, but I’ve never been disappointed with the majority of their music.

    Codex is stunning and I also love l.f. I’m now beginning to love gutg and little by little.

  • I love Radiohead. They have been here my whole life. When I met my wife, Nice Dream.
    I’ve been to 2 concerts. Both on my anniversary.
    One in Maryland Heights, Mo.
    One in Hollywood, Ca.
    This band is the only one(in my opinion) that doesn’t need to the Today Show or Regis and Kelly to promote beauty.
    Lady Gaga, Listen to class. Maybe you could learn something?
    Radiohead is full of class.
    Can’t wait for King of Limbs Too!!!

  • FUCK OFF RADIOHED, THIS LITLE SHIT BAND ONLY CRY AND SCREAM LIKE A CHILD. AND HEY! TOM IF U READ THIS PUT A GUN IN YOUR MOUTH AND SHOT PLEASE…
    OR SAY 3 TIMES MY NAME AND I WILL KILL U :)

  • Candyman is not intelligent.

  • “and that gives them a whole lot of freedom” –
    But not do half their job! ie only write 37 minutes of music
    I wont by buying anymore rh “albums” just wait for bittorrent

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