Proof that you don't always get what you pay for...

Radiohead's latest, which was made available for download on Wednesday, garnered a lot of publicity due to it's unusual price -- it cost whatever you wanted to pay for it. Some people have suggested that this is a sign of things to come -- that more bands will follow suit, abandoning the music companies' traditional business model by abandoning music companies altogether. I don't know about that.

I personally only paid £1.45, not because I thought it was worth so little, but because I have every intention of buying the physical CD when it comes out early next year. I'm not going to not buy a Radiohead CD, right?

The first Radiohead CD I bought was their groundbreaking OK Computer (1997), back when it was their most recent release, and I was taking a year off after high school. I had liked the first two singles, "Paranoid Android" and "Karma Police," so I bought the disc, and gave it a play.

I remember thinking, "What is this crap?" It was the first time I actually regretted buying a CD. But I gave it another chance, and then another, and before long I found myself among those who claimed that it was arguably the greatest rock album of all time. (That might sound like hyperbole, but what's better? Seriously?)

I didn't think they would ever top OK Computer, and maybe they haven't, but their subsequent work -- Kid A (2000), Amnesiac (2001), Hail to the Thief (2003), and now, In Rainbows -- has been consistently brilliant. They always sound different, yet they always sound like themselves, and they never sound like anybody else. You can't say that about too many bands. Apart from Radiohead, I don't know if you can say that about anybody.

I remember one British reviewer calling OK Computer "music to slit your wrists to," and much of their subsequent work has a similarly sad, plaintive quality (I defy anyone to listen to Amnesiac's "You and Whose Army?" and not feel a little depressed). In Rainbows has a bit of that, but at other times seems like quite a departure. Some songs sound hopeful and optimistic, even "romantic" as some critics have pointed out, and yet there is never any doubt who you are listening to. My early favourites are "Faust Arp," "Reckoner," and "House of Cards," but that will likely change.

I can't believe how good this band is. Why can't other bands be this good?

You can download In Rainbows for whatever price you want to pay (if any), here.



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