TV on the Radio first formed in Brooklyn early in the 21st century. The band’s first origins came about when multi-instrumentalist/producer Dave Sitek moved into the same building where vocalist Tunde Adebimpe was living. Both had been working on recording music on their own, but soon realized they sounded good working together. They made an EP with Dave’s brother as OK Calculator. They added guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone after the EP. The next EP as TV on the Radio, “Young Liars” also featured Brian Chase and Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It received a lot of critical acclaim in ’03 and was my first exposure to the band. They released their debut full-length the following year titled “Desperate Youths, Blood Thirsty Babes” and did a lot of touring. The second album came out in ’05 and they added bassist Gerard Smith to the band. The band went on a hiatus after their 3rdalbum which came out in 2008. After many side projects and some acting gigs by Adebimpe, the band came back together in 2011 and released “Nine Types of Light”. Bassist Smith unfortunately was suffering from lung cancer and died at the age of 34 that same year. At the end of 2014, the band released their first album since Smith’s death, titled “Seeds”.
TV on the Radio have a difficult to describe sound. They are a mix of post-punk, electronic, a little R&B and a little experimental. They play a great deal with sound and the band is made up of very creative individuals, both musically and visually. Some of their tracks are mellow, some more hyper and abrasive. It’s almost always interesting, and all five of their albums are very strong. Their latest “Seeds” is a good representation of the band and how they’ve evolved over the past decade. In some ways the album is a tribute to Gerard Smith, with themes of loss and recovery throughout.
Rainbows and Butterflies features Cleaver on lead vocals and showcases one of their “louder” cuts. I’m attaching a live performance because it’s not that easy to find just audio clips on YouTube. And the live on KEXP clips are generally great to watch anyway.
live performance on KEXP