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Review of TV on the Radio’s “Nine Types of Light”

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So, a month ago, our fearless editor asked me if I wanted to do a music review, since apparently he thinks it’s my job or something. I said sure, hooked him up with a scammy file-sharing website he could use to send it to me, and waited for the resulting file to show up.

On April 20th, I got an email notification whose subject line read: “The Editor wants to share ‘TV on the Radio’ with you.”

Do me a favor: go to Wikipedia, look up “TV on the Radio,” then see if you can find a reference to April 20th. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Yep. That guy sent me an album to crack jokes about on the day the band’s bassist died of cancer.

Oh, FUCK ME.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid to mock death among musicians. I think I did an album review where I suggested Jeff Buckley faked his own death (I was drunk at the time, but I’m pretty sure I actually wrote that).  On the anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, I always try to make the “no I dooooooooon’t have a gun” joke at least once, for old time’s sake.

But how do I trash the album when a band member JUST died of cancer?

At first, I considered outsourcing the job. Option 1 was this shitty comedian I know who still thinks AIDS jokes are funny, and who would probably live-tweet his wife’s pap smear if he thought he could get a laugh out of it. But he was wrapped up with a gig at Billy Bob’s Laugh Shack in Pig’s Knuckle, Arkansas, so that option was out. Option 2 was to give it to a teenage neighbor kid and have him do it. I even made up a Mad-Libs-style form, so he only had to fill in certain words…  but I forgot that every boy of that age only uses five words to fill out every Mad Lib: fart, smelly, boob, slimy, booger.

Out of desperation, I eventually listened to the album (a first, for my reviews) hoping there would be something worth mocking that didn’t go for the obvious funereal humor. “My, this is a lively tune! Whoops.” But unfortunately, they didn’t even suck to the point that it was mock-worthy.

 

And then the editor sent me another email titled, “Oh yeah, there was a movie too.”

Yep. It turns out, the band made an hour-long movie to showcase the album. And apparently, the lead singer’s burgeoning desire to be recognized as an artistic genius in multiple fields.

Jackpot.

It starts out with a bunch of random people talking about a recurring dream, then goes into a discussion about planetary alignment. Cut to music video. Cut to worse music video. Cut to more interviews where people sound like they stopped taking their lithium. Cut back to a still worse music video. And so on. I’m pretty sure that Luke on Modern Family pasted together a better video in the season finale… and he’s a 12-year-old kid who may or may not be mentally handicapped. (Note to ABC: I expect my endorsement check in the mail by Monday.)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new standard by which musical pretentiousness is measured.

In the new millennium, there has been an arms race to determine who can be the most edgy in their distribution of music. Prince is putting copies of his album in British tabloids. Radiohead did that “pay whatever you want for our album” thing. A Johnny Cash video got crowd-sourced… and won awards. (FYI, Johnny Cash has been dead since 2003. Which makes that the most ri-goddamn-diculous thing ever.)

But putting together an hour-long youtube video that’s half homemade videos, and half deliberately-artsy interview bits with random people, well… that takes the cake, today.

So, rather than make me avoid death jokes, do me a favor: go watch that pile of crap video on their website. It’s more unintentionally hilarious than any dead musician jokes I could write.

Rating: Three Keyboard Cats

Song you should pay $1 for on iTunes, rather than downloading for free: Fuck it. They put the whole album in a video on their website, don’t pay for any of them. Suckers.

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