MUSIC REVIEWS: TV on the Radio, Deerhunter, and The Republic Tigers
I never understood the hype about TV on the Radio, but when I first heard their new album Dear Science it all started to make sense. Their last album Return To Cookie Mountain showed potential and now it has turned kinetic with a great textural bend of orchestration and improved sense of lyricism. The New York based band has really come into their own and in the process they’ve created one of the most interesting and original albums of the year. One can hear the definitive tone that is struck right from the start with “Halfway Home” in its complex beat and diverse melody while with “Crying” and “Stork & Owl” they prove they’re not a one trick pony. The obvious comparison is to Bowie but with songs like “Golden Age,” “DLZ,” and “Family Tree” they prove themselves worthy of the comparison pushing the sound further with new elements. The album is a complete piece, which in itself should be celebrated due to its rarity these days. It’s a fun album to listen to with its eclectic influences woven into a unique identifiable sound filled with enticing musical hooks and diverse pacing. Dear Science is a welcome surprise and the album reveals its intelligence and complexity more and more with each listen.
If you could listen to heroin, I imagine it might sound a bit like Deerhunter’s new album Microcastle. Unfortunately, the sound often comes off as derivative because of the overwhelming similarity to the original sound of heroin, The Velvet Underground. The Atlanta based quintet has been celebrated for their ambient, art rock sound for a number of years now and have also been well documented due to their issues outside of music and regular blogging. The new album offers a bit of variety with songs like “Agoraphobia” (a stand out track) and “Never Stops,” which both have a more traditional classic rock feel versus “Green Jacket” and “Calvary Scars,” which have an experimental, spacey air. The album has a definite flow beginning with up-tempo beats that lead to more tripped out psychedelica, but the most unique music tends to happen in the middle with the balance of both worlds in songs like “Nothing Ever Happened.” The album is not exactly contemporary indie rock and it’s not quite John Cage either- it’s interesting but not enough to repeat unless you are highly medicated.
Catchy, dreamy, synthetic layered pop rock, Keep Color not only represents the debut release of the Republic Tigers, a Kansas City-based quintet, but also the debut of the band’s label, Chop Shop Records, a collaboration between Indie music icon Alexandra Patsavas and Atlantic Records. While the band has evolved over the past few years under various names and members, frontman Kenn Jankowski has been the constant presence. Here he reunites with guitarist Adam McGill to create a highly produced, intricately crafted, ultimately very pleasing sound that pulsates with catchy harmonies, and conjures images of what might happen if the Benedictine Monks and ‘N Sync made a record. If you haven’t already heard their songs on one of the many TV shows Patsavas musically consults for, (Gossip Girls or the now deceased OC), check out the songs “Buildings & Mountains” and “Fight Song” to both get an indication of the band’s best work and also gauge their somewhat limited range in song writing. The band has drawn comparisons to Death Cab for Cutie and Snow Patrol, but in Keep Color, the Republic Tigers deliver a quality indie pop album that should be instant gratification, but lacking the main stream punch of Snow Patrol or complexity of Death Cab.