Of the multitude of New York-based rock bands to garner recent media attention, surely the most unique musical personality belongs to TV On The Radio, a Brooklyn quintet whose two releases on Touch & Go have fueled major interest.
Curiosity peaked after the group — then the barely-out-of-the-loft project of lead singer Tunde Adebimpe and producer/multi-instrumentalist David Sitek — released the five-track EP “Young Liars” in July 2003.
The record blindsided the indie rock community with the title track, the haunting dirges “Blind” and “Staring at the Sun” and an a cappella doo-wop cover of the Pixies’ “Mr. Grieves.”
The EP set the stage for March’s “Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes,” a nine-track collage of stuttering tape loops, macabre synths, rumbling bursts of guitar and seductive layered vocals.
That album is one of 10 finalists for the Shortlist Prize, to be awarded Nov. 16 in Los Angeles.
Last month, “Desperate Youth” was repackaged with non-album single “New Health Rock,” the first TVOTR recording to feature new members Gerald Smith (bass) and Jaleel Bunton (drums). Vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Kyp Malone rounds out the group.
The members have been moving targets as their fame has evolved. “We’ve been on tour for like a year-and-a-half,” Adebimpe says. “My mom called and said, ‘I saw you in Spin magazine,’ and I thought ‘Why is my mom reading Spin?’ — so maybe that’s a sign that we’ve reached a larger audience.”
“Desperate Youth” has sold 47,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, while “Young Liars” has scanned 17,000.
Other labels have come knocking, but Adebimpe says the group has no thoughts of leaving Touch & Go: “We don’t really have any significant plans to do anything with another label, at all.” Recording for a new album begins in March 2005.
Excerpted from the Nov. 13, 2004, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers.
For information about ordering a copy of the issue, click here.