Friday, July 28, 2006

Musical Interlude

Seanachie is not the world's biggest Radiohead fan; I can acknowledge their songwriting abilities and have even been 'moved' by some of their past output but overall I find their brand of home-counties misery wearisome and frighteningly dull. I don't know why but I think the Yanks do all this thing a lot better, Kurt Cobain, Elliott Smith and so on. But I have to say that 'Creep' is an excellent track that has aged well, and here it appears in an acoustic version, which though unremarkable enough, is accompanied by a beguiling animated video that is completely at odds with the song itself (one has the suspicion that it is meant to project something more in the way of humour - the full address of the site is ), and the crisp line of the drawing is a nice counterpoint to the mounting self-pity of Thom and co.

I have been listening a lot lately to 'Return to Cookie Mountain', new album by the brilliant-but-awfully-monikered Brooklyn group TV On The Radio, and like pretty much anybody that has listened to any of their music, I don't know what to do with it. It's like buying on impulse a piece of furniture that you are convinced will suit any room in the house, only to find on hauling it back home that it really has no place, but is indispensable all the same. TVOTR do music, probably best described as music to listen to sitting down; you certainly can't dance to it, and it is too slow and too laid-back to qualify as rock. It is never going to get much day-time radio airplay and is unlikely to feature as even background music in a bar, however hip the joint might be. The closest thing the album gets to a loose groove is on the excellent single "Dirty Whirl" but for the most part it chugs along at its own nonchalant pace. The band seem like those sort of earnest, strangely-dressed young men you sometimes see standing in the corner of a hipster nightclub, observing all around them with mild condescension, refusing to dance the whole night but then get up to shake out in a slow, pretentious and embarrassingly gauche fashion to The Upsetters.

Which, admittedly, is a bit unfair to the group. David Bowie appears on the track 'Province', singing just behind lead singer Tunde Adebimpe. Bowie is a big fan and given the swarm of synthesizers on this track the band are probably as big fans of post-Let's Dance Bowie as they are of Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane. Hell, they might even think Tin Machine are hugely underrated. But under all the layers and sonic textures on 'Province' there is a conventional enough song, not unlike hundreds of others with the added bonus of a star guest. Unique as TV On The Radio's music is (not to mention great) I imagine that they will find it being pilfered over the years to come for many underwhelming cover versions, Paul Anka might even get his hands on it. 'There is hardly a method you know," as sometime singer Kip Malone warbles on one song. The melodic and structural core of most of the songs can be deceptive, and it may be testimony after all to TVOTR that they sound like nobody but themselves. Some hacks have called them the American answer to Radiohead, which will sound like a perplexingly inept comparison to anyone that knows either band.


Anonymous said...

Harsh. I like them.