TV On the Radio is one of our most beloved bands here at LxL, and they just released their fifth studio album which we reviewed here yesterday. With that, comes “the list treatment”. TVOTR has been a staple of independent music for over a decade now. In that time they have released arguably two of the greatest rock albums of all time (Return to Cookie Mountain, Dear Science). A song from each album (and an EP) aside from 9 Types of Light (which I personally love, but is not loved by many) has made it onto this list. Which really shows the strength of their entire catalog in our eyes. After the sad and early departure of their former bassist Gerard Smith (pictured above smiling brightly in the middle), they have found themselves transforming and adapting into new territories, but never sacrificing quality. Wes wrote more on their new album yesterday which you can find here, and if you are into a bit more reading on the band, NPR wrote another magnificent perspective on them and their new album which you can find here. And if you are still interested in reading more, here is our list:
10. “Young Liars”
Usually EP material tends to be more leftovers than anything, but not the case at all with the Young Liars EP. The title track is Tunde and the crew all howling maniacally over a shroud of noise, slowly lifting higher and higher towards the moon.
9. “The Blues From Down Here”
If “Young Liars” is the band reaching towards the sky, “Blues from Down Here” is the band getting down and dirty, the sort of raw and primal energy that is hard to deny.
8. “Careful You”
“Careful You” is the only song on their newest album Seeds to make the list, but that’s not because we don’t love it; the competition is ridiculously stiff. “Careful You” does distill the things we love about TV On the Radio into five wonderful minutes.
7. “Halfway Home”
“Halfway Home” is the opening track of their third album Dear Science, and marked a redefining moment of the band, pumping up the pop and funk in their music. The handclaps that push this song along crack like fireworks as the band shows the restraint to push the chorus two minutes into the song, the ultimately explosion and relief after all the incredible tension.
6. “I Was a Lover”
If “Halfway Home” opens Dear Science on a tense yet fun moment, “I Was A Lover” is cinematic and frightening to the bone. The mix of electronic effects, shrouds of guitar noise, maniacal vocals, and constant surprises shows exactly what makes TVOTR so special.
5. “The Wrong Way”
Three opening songs in a row on this list, all dramatically different in tone. While I certainly love the jazzy intro to the apocalypse that “Wrong Way” is on Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, the live version of this song is out of this world, as the band turns it into a hyper-speed gospel raveup that will knock you off your feet.
I will never forget the use of “DLZ” at the end of season of two of Breaking Bad, clearly the perfect choice for the “this is going to end badly” drama of Walt Whitman. TV similarly ratchet up the noise and energy as Tunde barks his way almost with rap-like flow as Dave Sitek raises the stakes further and further with the production.
3. “Dancing Choose”
Brains and beats. That’s what Dear Science was all about, and the razor sharp political criticism mixed with a super dancey groove of “Dancing Choose” makes it so you don’t have to choose between your dancing shoes and your thinking cap when listening to music. You can choose both with TV On the Radio.
If the otherworldly vocal harmonies of Tunde Adebimpe, Kype Malone, and Dave Sitek wasn’t enough, “Province” throws in the Thin White Duke as the cherry on top. The way David Bowie’s voice mixes with the TV guys points to some strange utopia that we might be able to reach with such magic.
1. “Wolf Like Me”
While it’s likely the band’s best known song, “Wolf Like Me” deserves all the love it can get. We listed it #2 on our spookiest songs list, as the band howls there way through the storm like a pack of werewolves that won’t be denied their prey. It makes you just want to accept your inner werewolf and just go crazy.
The “Just Missed Our List” list:
Austin – “Wash The Day”
“Wash the Day” is the big noisy close on Return to Cookie Mountain, capping off a perfect album if you ask me, and Austin thinks they saved one of the best for last.
Wes – “Could You”
“Could You” is such a surprisingly different turn for the band, as it sounds like if TV On the Radio were going to cover the jangly folk pop of the Byrds, but somehow it works.
Todd – “Let the Devil In”
Todd likes to get devilish from time to time, and “Let the Devil In” is the reverse exorcism he is looking for.