Monday, December 8, 2008

Guilty Pleasures: Radiohead and Guitar Hero

Monday, December 8, 2008

I know I am going to sound presumptuous in saying there were probably two or three o
f you out there wondering where I've been for the last month. That may be a gross exaggeration on my part.

Well, I have really quieted down since election day. I have turned off the TV and the talk radio more often than usual, so I have not subjected myself to the supposed controversies that are always surrounding us (see: atheistic sign, war on Christmas, doll indoctination, etc.).

And I have been indulging myself in two very enjoyable activities: listening to Radiohead and playing Guitar Hero on the Playstation 2.

I am a newcomer to the Radiohead bandwagon. I had previously been familiar with two of their most well-known compositions - "Karma Police" and "Creep." But I had never felt interested in listening to anything else they did. One day, several months ago, I got my hands on a copy of "OK Computer," and I have never looked back. For several weeks, OKC was by far the best CD I had listened to in a very long time. I could listen to it from start to finish, over and over, day after day, and never get tired of it. I was amazed that I had never been exposed to this masterpiece in the past.

I decided to continue familiarizing myself with Radiohead, so I checked out "Kid A," "Amnesiac," and "Hail to the Thief" at the public library. At first I wasn't so sure about these three recordings. They were not very much like OKC at all. In fact, some of the material seemed downright strange indeed. But I read in several places that one must listen several times to get the feel of the depth and explosiveness of the music on display. So I kept on, a little unsure if I could ever appreciate some of their "strange" creations.

I got ahold of the two-disc "Best of" Radiohead, as well as their first album, "Pablo Honey," and their second work, "The Bends." Both of these were more in the mold of alternative rock. By this time the aforementioned discs were starting to sink into my good graces, and I was starting to understand why some of Radiohead's earliest songs, while excellent by their own right, were nothing compared to the amazing stuff that came later on.

Suddenly I found myself in a very strange scenario. I was listening to Radiohead almost every day, sometimes for several hours a day. And instead of finding that I was growing tired of them, I seemed to enjoy the music more and more each time I turned on the tunes. I eventually got their latest CD, "In Rainbows," and not surprisingly, loved that one, as well. In fact, IR is nominated for best album at the upcoming Grammy's in February.

I really feel inadequate to explain why I think Radiohead is the best band I've ever discovered. I love the fact that you listen to them again and again, and you can't quite pin them down. They are not simply alternative, nor rock, nor electronic, nor anything. They are Radiohead. They have so many distict sounds, and yet everytime they come with something unique, it ends up turning out amazing. Most of the songs that took me aback at first listen, have come to be among my favorites of the group. For just a few examples see: "Like Spinning Plates," "Myxtomatosis," "Ideoteque," "Pyramid Song," or "In Limbo."

At this point, while I love "OK Computer" tremendously, I think "Hail to the Thief" is my favorite album. Each song just combines with the others, and the entire thing is absolutely amazing. Now that I'm a fan, I imagine I am like a lot of people in wondering if they can continue to push the envelope and continue to be so successful. But if the past is any indicator, they will find some way to do it. I have yet to find anything Radiohead has done that disappointed me, over time. They are an incredible band. If they find their way to Denver in the future, you can be I will be there.

My second guilty pleasure is Guitar Hero. My sister gave me a Playstation 2 for my birthday. Amazingly, I have never actually owned a game system myself. But I had been wanting to play Guitar Hero for awhile, so I went out and got some of the titles - Aerosmith, and Guitar Hero II and III. I am no whiz kid by any means. I have limited experience on an actual guitar, whether that helps or not, but I have passed most of the songs on Hard, and am cutting my way slowly through the Expert skill level. I have to admit, I enjoy acting like a rock star for a few minutes now and then. And I enjoy most of the music they put on those games.

I haven't gotten to it yet, but I have the feeling eventually I will have my hands on either Rock Band or Guitar Hero World Tour, so I can play the drums and sing along. But for now, Guitar Hero has really hit the spot.

So, if you've been wondering what happened to me, you can bet a lot of the time I was either being a hero, or listening to some exceptional Radiohead tunes. Either way, it's kept me out of the political arena, and given me a much-needed reprieve.

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