'Head Games

Members of Radiohead hope their latest trip to Colorado won't be as creepy as the last.

That remark could be taken as a slap at Oasis, an outfit that has numerous elements in common with Radiohead: For example, each is a British pop quintet featuring a pair of brothers. But unlike his countrymen in Blur, who seem to regard Oasis-bashing as their favorite sport, Selway deals tactfully with such comparisons. "We met Oasis at Christmas when we were doing some radio shows, and we really like them," he remarks. "They are a very good band. But," he goes on, "I think the Greenwoods are the antithesis of the Gallaghers."

There's a disparity sales-wise, too. While Oasis's (What's the Story) Morning Glory? is among America's ten best-selling albums, The Bends is stuck at number 107 after fifteen weeks in release. But from a quality standpoint, Radiohead's latest is an impressive return to form, thanks in large part to the disc's production. The sound wasn't easy to attain: It was mixed at Fort Apache studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade, who collaborated with Radiohead via transcontinental mail.

For O'Brien, the result was worth the hassle. He describes the Fort Apache staff, who've also worked with Dinosaur Jr, Cold Water Flat, Billy Bragg, Throwing Muses and Belly, as "real music enthusiasts. They're all collectors of amps and guitars and stuff. There isn't a studio like it in the UK that's recognizable as being integral to part of the music scene as obviously as Fort Apache was with the Boston bands in the Eighties and Nineties."

The act's repertoire gains extra power live. On stage, the skinny, mainly mop-headed musicians resemble a handful of blown-out birthday candles, caught in the blast of a mood-swinging style that finds tumultuous guitars smashing against ever-changing bass and drum rhythms. In the center of this maelstrom is Yorke, whose manner wavers between introversion and an all-out rock-star fit. His middle-of-the-scale vocals are diverse not in range but in character. On the new single "Just," he could pass for John Lennon, while "Planet Telex" finds him channeling Chrissie Hynde. He hits the high notes on "High and Dry" and oozes angst throughout "Creep," with which his comrades have come to terms.

"When we were touring off of the first album, most definitely 'Creep' would be the one song that people knew," Selway allows. "But this time around we haven't had that impact of a big single. So people have been coming on like genuine Radiohead fans, and they know the range of our material. The Bends has definitely put 'Creep' in its place."

"We still enjoy playing it," O'Brien claims, "but for a while the song was this albatross around our neck. It's fine now."

Will Radiohead present a rendition of the song in Denver? All you'll have to do is ask. As O'Brien says, "I just look forward to making up for all those poor people who paid exorbitant prices when we were opening for Soul Asylum."

So long as no one swipes their stuff again, that is.

Radiohead, with David Gray. 8 p.m. Monday, April 1, Ogden Theatre, 935 East Colfax, 830-2525 or 1-800-444-

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