Hail to the thieves

By WILL SPITZ  |  May 31, 2006

"Open Pick"
This one starts out not unlike “2+2=5” — with a rhythmically and harmonically interesting minor-key guitar figure — before the rest of the band comes in with pretty straightforward, upbeat backing. The song sounds a bit underdeveloped: the only real dynamic shift happens about halfway through when Thom Yorke kicks the vocals up an octave.

Another upbeat, guitar-driven tune, “Bodysnatchers” is one of the best and most complete of the new lot. Yorke sings something about being trapped in a body and not being able to get out, which nicely complements the twitchy, itchy mood of the music. In March, guitarist Jonny Greenwood posted on the Radiohead.com message board that they had just about finished “Bodysnatchers,” so it’s probably a safe bet that this one will show up on “LP7.”

This song’s been kicking around in various incarnations since March of last year, when Yorke and Greenwood played it with the Nazareth Orchestra at London’s Ether Festival. On the European tour versions, guitars have taken over the song’s arpeggio foundation, which Greenwood had played on the early electronic instrument the Ondes Martenot, and Selway’s drum beat adds a dancy element to the song’s ethereal vibe.

"House of Cards"
With its ska beat and pleasant vocal melody set to lyrics about collapsing infrastructure and denial, this is what I imagine it would sound like if Toots and the Maytals were to cover OK Computer — oh, wait, right . . .

"Go Slowly"
This aptly titled piano-based plodder is a bit overdramatic, in a “Climbing Up the Walls” sort of way. It’s all falsetto histrionics and minor-key doom and gloom but without any of the formal inspiration of, say, “Sail to the Moon.” Hopefully they’ll tart it up in the studio.

"15 Step"
Definitely one of the best of the bunch, “15 Step” is the only song the band played at all nine European shows. Based on a nifty electronic beat and a sort of deranged “Louie Louie” chord progression, the song is the most reminiscent of Kid A/Amnesiac from the new stuff.

This minute-long instrumental sounds unlike anything the band has written before. A straight-up take on Dick Dale surf rock — truly bizarre. Maybe it’s the band’s way of responding to the criticism that they take themselves too seriously.

Formerly titled “Big Ideas,” this dates back to the OK Computer days. But in February on Dead Air Space, Yorke posted this comment: “right now we are working on nude, it sounds beautiful, as far as i can tell.” So it’s definitely in contention for a spot on the album. With its slow 6/8 shuffle and clean guitar chime, it’s reminiscent of the verses in “Subterranean Homesick Alien,” and probably the most gently pretty song of the lot.

"4 Minute Warning"
Another slow, quiet tune that wouldn’t sound out of place on OK Computer, this one’s a major-key piano and acoustic guitar affair, with Selway smacking a tambourine on the downbeats until about the halfway mark, when he kicks in with a solid tom-tom stomp. At one of the Copenhagen shows, the band didn’t quite seem to have it down yet, with Yorke declaring it “sketchy” at the end. But by the end of the European trek two weeks later, it had tightened up quite nicely.

Radiohead | June 4-5 | Bank of America Pavilion, Northern Ave, Boston | 617.228.6000

On  the Web
Radiohead: http://www.radiohead.com/
Dead Air Space: http://www.radiohead.com/deadairspace/
Radiohead Live 2006: http://www.lders.nl/
Radiohead Feed: http://www.radioheadfeed.com/
Not-For-Profit: a Radiohead site for live mp3s: http://www.radiohead-notforprofit.com/
Radiohead At Ease: http://www.ateaseweb.com/
Radiohead at Hype Machine: http://hype.non-standard.net/search/radiohead/

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