TV Sets

by Jim Di Gioia

September 20, 2017

TV Sets by Jessica Mae

Jessica Mae

I’ve been obsessively poring over Lizzy Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011 for the last month or so (yeah, I’m a slow reader, what’s it to ya?). It’s a hefty tome chock-full of first-person accounts of the post-millennial, post-indie rock music scene in NYC. I love its stories about ‘happy accidents,’ where an innocuous action has a powerful, life-changing outcome for an artist. Toronto’s TV Sets know the kind of fluke situation I’m describing. Something wasn’t clicking while working on “Elsewhere”, the title track off their latest EP. On a lark, and to blow off some steam, they tried playing the track at double the speed it was initially written.

The band may not define the circumstances behind “Elsewhere” as life-changing, but the song’s new-found bouncy tempo and snappy melody were just what TV Sets needed to get the song out of its rut. Which, coincidentally, is what “Elsewhere” is all about. “The lyrics deal with the idea of still being able to change yourself overnight after feeling stuck in the past and unable to move forward”, the band recently shared, adding that it’s “…essentially a nostalgic sounding argument against nostalgia.”

TV Sets achieve that anti-nostalgic aesthetic by using familiar musical touchstones in unexpected ways. “Elsewhere” gets its energy from a shimmery wash of guitar and percussion that fuels the understated bass and barely-there drumming that forms the song’s humming core. Once the song starts, it feels like TV Sets aren’t exactly sure where the song will end up. That ebullient sense of experimentation and uncertainty makes “Elsewhere” feel like something new and untested. Something “else.”

Jim Di Gioia

Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.

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