TV on the Radio

I am, at this moment, kicking myself for not having made the time to go to Moogfest so I could see them live.

When I have five minutes, I sit at my drumkit and play Golden Age, because it is currently my favorite song in the whole universe:

And yes, that is the weirdest, most fucked-up video I think I have ever seen. Isn’t it glorious?

But what I love is that this is not a band that is static, that is just reproducing a record. Consider, for instance, these three performances of “Will Do” (which I find a lovely song by any standard):

First, the album version:

Then a performance from Letterman, (just a few days after their album was released and just six days before their long-time bassist died of cancer) which is obviously the same song, but not a reproduction of the album by any means:

Then, this version from SXSW, a few months later:

Even this song off their just-released album, is still evolving. They’re in no rush.

Or, even better, a song off an older album, “Dirtywhirl” (which gets points in my book for being about Durga), which in this 2006 performance starts with them looping Tunde Adebimpe beatboxing:

Versus the original album version:

I am in awe of their brilliance.

TV on the Radio

So, I posted about my feeling that pop music today was a retread of stuff that wasn’t even the best there was the first time around. I got some pushback on that, to the effect that I, being over 40, would have to be an exceptional specimen to appreciate music that wasn’t of my youth, and of course I thought things might sound like other stuff, but that was just a natural consequence of having listened the first time around (tell me if you think I’m mischaracterizing your argument, Chet).

(That South Park did an episode making pointed commentary about this very thing a week or three later was hilarious–and I’ll have you know I’m not just a cynical old bastard.)

Still, I will hold up as a counter-argument to the suggestion of simply rampant old-fogeyism, my growing infatuation with TV on the Radio.

I first caught them on Saturday Night Live, actually, which is funny since these days–you guessed it–I mostly complain about SNL’s music choices, because, seriously, Ke$ha? I’m not supposed to sneer at her?

Anyway, I probably ordered the CD from Amazon the next, day despite the fact that the sound on the performance wasn’t all that great. Here was a band that didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard before.

Still it sat in the music collection until about six weeks ago when I finally got loading of my flac-encoded music collection onto my iPod working (the price of using Free Software is that sometimes you have to write the damned patch yourself), and that was among the first album I listened to, doing nothing but listening–stretched out on the floor with a pair of headphones on, in fact.

Holy Shit, it’s brilliant.

From the opening moments of the weird lurching beat of “I Was a Lover” to it’s creepy falsetto-chorus lyrics and the looped horn samples that sound so incredibly mournful to me, I was hooked. It is noisy and discordant and has moments of spine-tingling beauty that hit you out of nowhere, and it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard.