Rock, jagged funk, electronica, and sweeping washes of cinematic sound come together in the music of Brooklyn band [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]TV on the Radio[/lastfm], one of the most innovative and exciting rock bands working today. They’re also a fantastic live band–and if you haven’t yet seen them, here’s your chance.
On Thursday, April 14, TV on the Radio takes the stage of New York’s Ed Sullivan Theater for a Live on Letterman concert webcast, allowing fans an up-close view of the band in action. The performance kicks off at 8pm Eastern (5pm Pacific) and will feature songs from the group’s brand-new album Nine Types of Light (released just two days earlier and already looking to be among the year’s best) as well as from throughout their acclaimed, decade-long career. You can watch the entire show live as it happens right here or on CBS.com; it will then be available on demand on both CBS.com and Vevo.com.
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In many ways, the rise of [lastfm]TV on the Radio[/lastfm] has mirrored that of their Brooklyn neighborhood. The group formed in 2001 when multi-instrumentalist/producer David Andrew Sitek moved into the Williamsburg building where vocalist Tunde Adebimpe had a loft. At the time both were visual artists who made music on the side, but they soon realized they shared a lot of musical interests and began collaborating.
Like their neighborhood, the pair’s initial sound was rough and edgy. But over time they smoothed out some of the corners and wound up developing a powerful style that is entirely their own.
Despite [lastfm]TV on the Radio[/lastfm]’s connections to the New York rock scene, their breakthrough 2003 Young Liars EP (by which point singer, guitarist, and bassist Kyp Malone had joined the group) felt like it came from somewhere else, both musically and geographically speaking.
You could hear the influence of downtown New York rock in their songs; at the same time, however, their music had a chaotic, arty-dance feel that clearly differentiated them from other groups emerging in the wake of New York post-punk sensations [lastfm]The Strokes[/lastfm]. Much of this is due to their creative use of electronics–synths and production effects–in juxtaposition with Adebimpe’s and Malones’ vocals and post-rock guitar work.
If that sounds like an odd combination, it is. But the impressive thing about [lastfm]TV on the Radio[/lastfm] is how well the members assemble these disparate elements into a sound that’s natural and cohesive. Take for instance “Staring At the Sun,” a song from Young Liars EP and still among their best-known tracks:
Following Young Liars, [lastfm]TV on the Radio[/lastfm] released the albums Desperate Youths, Blood Thirsty Babes in 2004 and then Return to Cookie Mountain in 2006. Cookie Mountain won critical acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork and SPIN magazine–who named it album of the year–gained them wider recognition, and helped establish them as one of the rock world’s top new bands.
Return to Cookie Mountain features an incredibly lush, and at times dense, production. It can be challenging, but it’s also a bold statement in both sound and lyrics.
The band’s 2008 release Dear Science was more restrained, and it represented another step forward for the band: finding the ability to focus their concepts into more tightly structured songs.
[lastfm]TV on the Radio[/lastfm] has now dropped its fourth LP, Nine Types of Light, and one of their first tour stops will be at the Ed Sullivan Theater for the Live on Letterman webcast.
Watch TV on the Radio perform live on Thursday, April 14, at 8pm Eastern (5pm Pacific) on CBS.com