Indie rock champions, TV On The Radio have returned with a new album, and have embarked on a tour across the US.
These now four fellows have been through a number of changes since 2011. They suffered the loss of their talented long-time bassist, Gerard Smith, and parted ways with their label, Interscope. The band is now compromised of lead singer Tunde Adebimpe, guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone, bassist/drummer Jaleel Bunton, and guitarist Dave Sitek. The tour squad and new album also include horns by the talented Smoota, who has worked with the likes of Run the Jewels, Sufjan Stevens and Spoon, among many others.
After taking a mostly silent break from music after the touring cycle of their last album, “Nine Types of Light”, TV On The Radio casually approached the creation of their new record. Without a label, the band was not obligated to put out new material. This time, they put together an album because they wanted to make music, and as articulately as ever, had something that they wanted to say.
“Seeds” (released last November through Harvest Records) is a dozen track presentation of growth and strength. “Seeds” is much less politically driven than previous musical ventures. By guitarist and producer Dave Sitek’s admission, the album is personally a reflection of self, instead of one on relating to the world. With deeply conscious and sharply poetic lyrics, the album is both a narrative on love, life, and moving on, as well as a mixture of some more acoustic tracks with motivational prose.
Familiar listeners will be excited to hear that the architecture of TVOTR’s jams has remained the same. These fellows put forth a unique mix of heavy synth, bass, precise guitar, essence of punk rhythms, and even some soul. They have overcome tragedy to delve back deep into the structure of their musical roots with impossible harmonies, and tastefully sexual lyrics.
Throughout the band’s four previous studio albums, they have taken listeners on a journey from cookie mountain to classrooms of dear science, bloodthirsty babes writhing under nine types of light… forging a path of over ten years of success.
Such critical acclaim has landed them atop coveted lists such as Rolling Stone’s best album for 2008’s “Dear Science”, and Spin’s best album for 2006’s “Return to Cookie Mountain”.
Milwaukee’s sold out Pabst Theater was filled with concert goers seemingly seated and standing in every available free space on March 24th. The beautiful venue opened in 1895, and was host to exquisitely painted walls, three tears of seats, and a plethora of sparkling chandeliers.
In the dimly lit ambiance, Nostalghia were first to take the stage. The group of three is comprise of lead singer statuesque Ciscandra Nostalghia, percussionist Roy Gnan, and cellist Adele Stein. Ciscandra moved gracefully across the stage, and mesmerized the crowd with a voice that sounded like a mixture between Karen O and Bjork. Nostalghia’s set included powerful, haunting songs that lamented love and power under a cloud of smoke from a machine set up one stage.
Welcomed by applause and many cheers, TV on the Radio appeared, setting the mood with an instrumental intro into the song, “Young Liars”. Kyp Malone took the vocal reins for “Golden Age”, singing of the age of miracles and sound. Next up, TVOTR ignited the crowd with the forceful, punk-infused jam from the new record, “Lazerray”.
Their set included songs that ranged from 2003’s EP “Young Liars” to “Seeds”. The group’s precision, and tour veteran status were apparent in their ability to absolutely rock the house.
During every uptempo song, like the popular and powerful “Wolf Like Me”, the floor was literally shaking with excited, jumping fans. I’m quite certain every voice in the audience was singing along.
Lead singer, Tunde Adebimpe danced around, and made his way to the edge of the stage, exciting the crowd further. Even so, the set was absent of excess flair or pomp and circumstance; what spoke loudest was the music.
After ending the set with 2008’s “DLZ”, TVOTR disappeared into the darkness. The not yet satisfied crowd screamed, cheered and clapped, until their heroes emerged from the darkness. The band closed out the night with a three song encore, which an upbeat rendition of “Staring at the Sun”. The band repeatedly thanked the concert attendees, and Adebimpe even stood air high-fiving fans from his spot behind the microphone.
TV On The Radio are going to be touring the country well into May, making stops at venues and festivals. The foursome will also be making an appearance at Lollapalooza, and festivals abroad this summer. They also recently taped their first appearance on Austin City Limits.
The group has stated plain that their presence in rock is not one to be forgotten, and it appears they’re going to be churning out inspirational and powerful jams for a long time to come.
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell