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Compiled by Mishal Ali Khan

Radiohead was one of the few alternative bands of the early '90s to draw heavily from the grandiose rock arena that characterised U2's early albums. But the band internalised that rock scenario, turning it inside out to tell tortured, twisted tales of alienation. Vocalist Thom Yorke's pained lyrics were brought to life by the group's three-guitar attack, which relied heavily on texture instead of virtuosity. It took Radiohead awhile to formulate their signature sound, however, this was right around the corner. Their 1993 debut, Pablo Honey, only suggested their potential, and one of its songs, "Creep," became an unexpected international hit, its amazing lyrics making it an alternative rock anthem. Many observers then labelled Radiohead as a one-hit wonder, but the group's second album, The Bends, was released to terrific reviews in the band's native Britain in early 1995, helping build a more stable fan base. Having demonstrated unexpected staying power, as well as increasing ambition, Radiohead next released OK Computer, a progressive, electronic-tinged masterpiece that became one of the most acclaimed albums of the '90s.

Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar), Ed O'Brien (guitar, vocals), Jonny Greenwood (guitar), Colin Greenwood (bass), and Phil Selway (drums) formed Radiohead as students at Oxford University in 1988. Initially called On a Friday, the band began pursuing a musical career in the early '90s. Shortly afterward, the group signed to EMI/Capitol and released the single "Creep," a fusion of R.E.M. and Nirvana highlighted by a noisy burst of feedback prior to the chorus. "Creep" was a moderate hit, and their next two singles, "Anyone Can Play Guitar" and "Pop Is Dead," built a small following, even as the British music press ignored the group. Pablo Honey, Radiohead's debut album, was released to mixed reviews in the spring of 1993. As the band launched a European supporting tour, "Creep" became a sudden smash hit in America, earning heavy airplay on modern rock radio and MTV. On the back of the single's success, Radiohead toured the U.S. extensively, opening for Belly and Tears for Fears. All the exposure helped Pablo Honey go gold, and "Creep" was re-released in the U.K. at the end of 1993. This time, the single became a Top Ten hit, and the band spent the following summer touring the world.

Although "Creep" made Radiohead a success, it also led many observers to peg the band as a one-hit wonder. Conscious of such thinking, the group entered the studio with producer John Leckie to record its second album, The Bends. Upon its spring 1995 release, The Bends was greeted with overwhelmingly enthusiastic reviews, all of which praised the group's deeper, more mature sound. However, positive reviews didn't sell albums, as Radiohead struggled to be heard during the U.K.'s summer of Britpop and as American radio programmers and MTV ignored the record. The band continued to tour as the opening act on R.E.M.'s prestigious Monster tour. By the end of the year, The Bends began to catch on, thanks not only to the band's constant touring but also to the stark, startling video for "Just." The album made many year-end best-of lists in the U.K., and early in 1996 the record re-entered the British Top Ten and climbed to gold status in the U.S., helped in the latter by the video for "Fake Plastic Trees." During the first half of 1996, Radiohead continued to tour before re-entering the studio that fall to record their third album, OK Computer, which was released in the summer of 1997. A devoted following of fans and a handful of enthusiastic critical supporters immediately embraced the album's majestic blend of unfettered prog rock, post-punk angst and eerie electronic textures. Since it was a skillful mix between rock classicism and futurism, it earned near-unanimous critical and popular support over the course of the year, which turned into unrestrained adoration in the final two years of the decade. With songs such as Karma Police, Climbing up the walls and Paranoid Android in OK Computer, Radiohead achieved great success with this album. The songs off their edge in song-writing and of course the great mixture of different genres of music. OK Computer is touted by many of their devotees as their best album so far.

Expectations for Radiohead's fourth album were stratospheric, which placed additional pressure on the already perfectionist band, and led to several stumbling blocks along the way. An intense buzz of excitement among the band's still-growing following greeted the pre-release appearance of most of the album's tracks on the Internet in MP3 form; they displayed an all-out fascination with challenging, often minimalist electronica. Titled Kid A, the album was finally released in October 2000 and astonished many observers by debuting at number one on the U.S. album charts. While the band didn't release any singles or embark on a formal tour, the album met with a mixed critical response as the group was accused of creating a distant and radio-unfriendly record; however, it did remain a fan favourite. In June of 2001, Radiohead quickly released an album under the name Amnesiac that consisted of material that was recorded during the Kid A sessions.

The band made it very clear, though, that it was not to be considered an outtakes album; rather, they insisted that the two albums were of clear and separate concept. Regardless, Amnesiac debuted at number one in the U.K. and number two on the U.S. chart (behind then-stronghold Staind), while outselling Kid A in week one by 25,000 copies. The singles Pyramid Song and Knives Out were culled from Amnesiac with a subsequent world tour. While planning I Might Be Wrong for a third single, the idea expanded into a live "mini-album" that was released in November of 2001. Making for their third release in 13 months, the tracks were collected from four different shows in Europe and included an unreleased song, "True Love Waits."

Their next album, Hail to the thief, released again with eager anticipation in October 2003, features singles such as Sail to the Moon and Go to sleep. The album features Radiohead truly finding its own style of music, and really focusing on it. Hail to the Thief again highlights amazingly written lyrics and then of course the typical Radiohead blending of rock classicism and futurism.

Burnout 3: Takedown

By Gokhra

Publisher: EA Games
Release Date: 09/07/2004

If you've got a PS2 then the coolest game out right now is not NFS but Burnout 3. Even if driving games aren't normally your thing, Burnout 3 is still right for you. It's that good.

The original Burnout, released back in 2001, was a great arcade-style racing game. It delivered a sense of speed that most games lacked and showcased some pretty spectacular crashes. In fact, the crashes were so cool that they were spun off into their own mode of play in Burnout 2. The crash mode in Burnout 2 was totally separate from the main racing game, but the puzzle-like challenge of wrecking your car in the right spot and at the right time caused the most spectacular, most damaging multicar pileups, which represented an amazing addition to the game.

Burnout 3 is mainly a racing game that rewards you for driving recklessly. The courses in the game are open-road tracks on winding freeways and city streets with a good amount of traffic. Driving dangerously comes in the form of driving in the wrong lane, getting close to (but not hitting) other cars, catching air, drifting around turns, and so on. Sounds a bit like NFS Underground? When you pull such risky maneuvers, you're rewarded with boost which is something that just lets you turn your car into a rocket for a while. But the quickest way to fill your boost meter in a regular race is to make your opponents crash which is what Takedown is all about. When you knock another car out your boost meter is filled up to a maximum of four times its original size. In the process you'll face some pretty dangerous situations where you could crash, lose you boost and even fall back one or two spots in a race.

Crash mode returns to Burnout 3 with the same goal as in Burnout 2--to create the largest, most expensive pileup possible. The crash junctions still have a puzzle-like quality to them in that you'll have to figure out the most efficient crash spot in each level. Burnout 3 makes crashing, usually an undesirable part of competition in a racing game, a completely enjoyable experience. It has added features like "aftertouch" where you'll have to do more than just crash into another car. Instead you'll need to maneuver your vehicle's carcass around for best results. It's a strange and surprisingly well-thought-out addition to the game adding a good amount of variety. Controlling your crash brings a lot of depth to the mode.

The other modes in the game are standard variants on the basic format. You'll face off against one other car in a race that, if won, unlocks the opposing vehicle for your own use. The burning lap is a solo race against the clock that gives you the maximum boost meter length and essentially challenges you to boost your way around the entire track to meet or beat some pretty challenging lap times. Road rage gives you a time limit and a never-ending stream of opponent cars. The gold medal is won by achieving a specific number of takedowns before time--or before your banged-up car--expires.

Tying all of the single-player modes together is the world tour mode, which is essentially a large map full of different events. This career-type mode is good at letting you do what you want to do, since you'll usually have a great deal of races available at any given time. Single races eventually lead to grand prix events, burning laps, road rage, crash junctions, eliminator races, face-offs, and so on. The goal in each event is to earn a medal. You can earn bronze medals and still progress through the game, but to unlock the most cars and events, you'll want to take the time to go for the gold. The world tour mode is very good at throwing a lot of unlockable content at you right off the bat, though as you progress, the new cars start to dry up a bit.

The world tour mode is fantastic at ramping up the difficulty at a manageable pace. The first set of cars you get--the compact series--already feels like its cars go incredibly fast. But at this speed, beginners will still feel like they have just enough time to react to little things like, say, an oncoming semi truck. Then you'll move up to the muscle series, which is a little faster and looser but is still manageable--once you get used to the upgrade. These performance boosts keep coming until you hit the super series, which is faster still--and is significantly harder than the early portions of the game.

Your computer-controlled opponents add to the mayhem quite well. Usually, at the start of a race, they'll drive in a fairly passive manner but that all changes if you knock one of them around. The other driver could soon be out for blood. Angered artificial intelligence will knock you around, attempt to force you into walls or oncoming traffic and generally make your life more difficult. But it's also to your advantage to fight with your foes, because the boost bonuses are significant. You'll occasionally pull ahead of the pack and get into a situation where you can crash once or twice without losing the lead, but for the most part, you need to stay on your toes and race well to win. This works in reverse too, so it's possible for you to come back from worst to first, provided you're driving in a risky enough fashion to earn sufficient boost to catch up to the pack.

While the crashes are flashy and spectacular, the most impressive part of Burnout 3 is its pure sense of speed. This is something that most other racing games simply can't seem to get right--at least not compared with this one. In Burnout 3, racing at 150mph feels about as dangerous as it should. Boosting in a super series car will get you up around the 200mph mark, which feels ridiculously fast, especially when you factor in the relative speeds of oncoming drivers. So even if driving games aren't normally your thing this one has enough thrills to keep anyone going.


Review by Gokhra

A nameless hero. Now what could be more sinister and intriguing than that? Its a bit like Kill Bill where the heroine is The Bride. But the similarities, if any, end there. Where Kill Bill was a lot about gushing blood, sexual innuendoes and brutality Hero is more of grace and beauty with underlying deadliness.

The movie is acted out by a star studded cast except if you are not much into Chinese films then you probably have not heard of them. Jet Li (yeah, we all know him) plays nameless, a quiet warrior who narrates the tales of his exploits. Set 2,000 years ago, during the reign of the King of Qin (Chen Daoming). The film depicts a China divided among warring states. King of Qin wants to unify them all so he can rule as the first emperor. Of course, with great power comes great danger and here it is in the form of three deadly assassins -- Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Sky (Donnie Yen).

The king's put out a challenge stating that the one who gets rid of the three becomes rich and famous. This is where Jet Li walks in to claim his prize. He has the hardware of the dead warriors to prove his feat. But how, the king wonders, did it happen?

The movie carries on from here about how nameless outdid all the assassins. He describes in detail (and flashback) how he killed all three.

But the Emperor is wary. At war with the six other Chinese kingdoms for decades, he trusts no one, especially not this fearsome, quiet warrior. As their conversation continues, the story deepens and changes more and more layers of illusion and reality are peeled away, while a mass of warriors gathers menacingly outside.

There are different versions of what could have happened between him and the dead warriors. There is the subtle possibility of conspiracy. Could nameless be the actual assassin?

This is not another mindless action movie with a lot of dazzle. The actors launch themselves at one another like torpedoes yet there is still something vaguely believable in between. All the actors pirouette, leap, and levitate toward and away from one another in a series of dance like movements.

It's a beautiful and thrilling movie settling on a feast of fantasy. There are the lavish visuals and a heart-stopping explosion of cinema pyrotechnics and fight choreography that, in scene after scene, leaves you almost breathless. Each scene is like a work of art for example there is a fight scene between two women amid an downpour of leaves.

And the hoards of warriors raining down upon the masses are not computer generated. You can see that a lot of effort has gone into the work with the close ups showing you the stubble and sweat on the tanned, tired faces.

The movie is packed completely with unrealistic yet hypnotically entertaining scenes, a captivating color design and big star personalities. The movie has its moments like the one where Jet Li is fighting Broken Sword who is incidentally a great calligrapher. In between the fighting they take a moment to be polite and compliment each other. "Beautiful calligraphy," Nameless tells Broken Sword after a rain of arrows has fallen around them. "Beautiful swordplay," Broken Sword replies. And there you have this movie's charm. Its unreal and at the same time you want to believe. Just try not to ruin the fun by watching a blurry pirated copy.

Sites Unseen

By Niloy

I’ve been using a Gmail account lately and I've got to tell you, the experience is superb. It's not exactly indescribable by words, but it's pretty close. Especially when we've been using emails from Yahoo and Hotmail for years.

Even if you ignore the fact that the 1000 MB account is virtually impossible to fill up, you just can't ignore the ease and simplicity of using a Gmail. You'd never have type an email address twice; Gmail will remember every address that crosses its path. You won't have to load pages after pages to send an attachment. You can read what's in an email straight from the inbox. And you won't probably be deleting mails here, so you got a search tool as powerful as Google to search for your mails in your (soon to be vast) inbox.

By the way, we've been receiving some requests to include troubleshooting tips and protection against spy-ware and viruses in Sites Unseen. While I can't promise to help you fix your PC, if I run into any sites which deal with stuff like this, I'll let you know. Notice the 'if'.

Know more than you should
"Know more than you should. Dare to think. Ignite your imagination. Make the most of your mind." Interesting slogans, eh? This site is full of them. And the site will make you fell like making the most of your mind. If you visit the site, don't forget to watch the imaginative video ads. The videos are about 2 to 3 MBs each and they are worth the loading time.

Do not use the Internet Explorer anymore
You live in Bangladesh. You are not endowed with something like an enormous 128 kbps net connection. So why do you have to worsen you online experience by using the slowest browser on earth? The world is advancing, my friend, you probably should too. If you need further persuasion, visit this site. Anyway, this doesn't apply to the ones not using Internet Explorer.

The great ones who kicked the bucket in style
You shouldn't laugh at people killing themselves stupidly. But maybe, sometimes you should do things you shouldn't do, especially if it results in some good light-hearted laughter. Visit the site and try to keep a straight face.

"Writer's block" buster
Instant creativity generator! You'll be given one random word and one minute to write. Write whatever that comes into your mind. Write as much as you can. Don't bother much about what you are writing, just write, Write, WRITE! After you completed writing, you can post your writing and you get to see what other people from all around the world has written. This site is a must for anyone trying to do some creative writing. And it's worth visiting everyday.

"A game worth dropping off school"
Well, that was their slogan for a while. I don't see myself quitting school for a game like that, but yes, the game is awesome. Flash game, about 200 kb in size.

Apparently, they have sense of humour!
Apart from bashing everyone by always doing the best, the people at Google seems to have some humour too. Don't know if Microsoft or Yahoo has a page like this. Anyway, Google is revealing it's secret of being the best search engine…
it uses trained pigeons to process the search requests.

Steve Ballmer sells Windows 1.0
It seemed that it was unfair to say that Microsoft doesn't have any sense of humour. Although they don't have any quirky pages on their sites, they actually did some funny stuff. This one is a funny ad in which Steve Ballmer (a very powerful guy at Microsoft) sells Windows 1.0. It's about 900 kb.

That's it for this Sites Unseen. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you need to contact me about something, mail me at niloy.me@gmail.com


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